Play Story, by Clive Donovan



And so the story begins:
with a house in which our hero prince resides.
It can be empty – or full – as you choose.
Our hero is torn between two states:
Solitude and Company.


Let us say he wishes to be alone
and there the leading lady is, polishing the grate,
or some such earthly task
and the smell of the polish offends
and disturbs and he banishes this personage.


A gross mistake: Because that character
was the one who kept the household alive and viable,
though nobody realized it or thought it through
and now hero suffers inconvenience and dark night
of soul and wishes for solace. Door knocks.


And a charming stranger offers solace and delight
at end of tunnel and hero is gladly accepting,
without checking references.
Fatal flaws: Impulsiveness and bad judge of character.
Grate unpolished, no promised light and candlesticks stolen.


Final act: He misses the smell of polish. Sings a bit,
cathartic lesson learned, remorseful, [also evicted].
lives in a hut now with new, paradoxical desire:
Solitude in Company and Company in Solitude.
With advancing senility, it is all delivered.


Clive Donovan is the author of two poetry collections, The Taste of Glass [Cinnamon Press] and Wound Up With Love [Lapwing] and is published in a wide variety of magazines including Acumen, Agenda, Crannog, Popshot, Prole, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis and Stand. He lives in Totnes, Devon, UK. He is a Pushcart and Forward Prize nominee for 2022’s best individual poems.


Coventry, by David Court


jet engines,
black cabs,
roads shaped like rings.

A brief annotation;
a sad association -
Women putting cats into bins.

David is a novelist, freelance writer for Slash Film, and radio presenter. David lives in Coventry with his wife, Aslan the cat and a beard. David’s wife once asked him if he’d write about how great she was, and David said he would because he specialized in short fiction. Despite that, they’re still married.


When Infirmity Struck Modernity, by Julian Isaacs

When Infirmity Struck Modernity

At McCarty’s party everyone was hearty, if not hale.
They’d overdone it with the night porter
And the jugs of foaming ale.
The Paddy’s and the Power’s didn’t taste like what it oughtta,
And the weather was beyond the pale.
A blanket of Edgar Allen lay thick upon the ground,
And the ladies were sobbing Billie Jo Spears.
The hurdy-gurdy emitted the eeriest sound,
Wailing through their hopes and fears.
Lenehan was scoffing a plate of split striptease
As the barometer dropped and froze.
There were some people the contra-tenor just couldn’t please,
And somebody hit Maloney on the nose.
If you find this tale a little strange to understand,
It might help to read it tied up with a black velvet band,
Shivering on the sand at Sandymount Strand,
But new minutes will never catch the second hand,
For the man in the signal box who killed time
Has committed an ever unpunishable crime.

George Actually, by Ros Woolner

George actually

King George (the First – though actually, they didn’t call him that
till George the Second’s time, by when, of course, our George was dead)
came in fact from Hanover in Germany, which means
his name’s not George at all, but Georg.

This George (or Georg), followed Anne – though actually, they changed
the rules to stop Anne’s Catholic relatives becoming kings
and queens, so really there were several other cousins closer
to the throne when George pushed in.

Well anyway, Anne died and he was crowned – though actually,
it took six weeks (no telephones to break the news, no cars
or trains or planes, and when he reached the sea he had to wait
for winds and ships so he could sail).

Despite not speaking English well, George ruled for thirteen years –
with ministers to help him, naturally. In any case,
in Europe in those days, the language of diplomacy
was French. Not English. Actually.

Ros Woolner lives in Wolverhampton. Her poems have appeared in anthologies and journals, including Magma, The Cannon’s Mouth, The Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar, and she won the Guernsey International Poetry Competition in 2021. Her pamphlet On the Wing is available from Offa’s Press.


Cliche, by Terri Metcalfe


I could throw caution to the wind,
put all my eggs in one basket,
be a beacon for change
and give absolutely no fucks,
because at a certain age
it’s important to choose a cliché.
I could carry my pre-middle age
in a wicker basket,
amongst Gitanes and cognac,
and a Bichon Frise
I’d swim in the sea wearing only
a paisley headscarf
and oversized sunglasses.
I could develop a passion for plastic appendages
remoulding myself as “Polly Murs”,
rename the kids “Tupperware” and “Teflon”
influence the influencers
and become a cartoon of my former self.
I could grow my facial hair
into a handlebar moustache,
disappear from the internet
join MI5
and tell everyone
I’m now a European truck driver.
I could sell raffle tickets for a kidney,
host bingo for a pint of blood
defraud my siblings into handing
over mum’s Jacobean furniture collection
and leaving them dad’s Elvis memorabilia.
I could take up marathon running
but only on days with a c in them,
run for council
but only for a party with a heart in them,
adopt stray dogs
but only ones with a bit of feline in them.
Then again,
you can’t teach a young leopard new stripes
and a cat doesn’t change its tricks.

Living the Alien, by Colin Dennis

Living The Alien

If I'm not an alien
Then who the heck am I?
Who was in that spaceship?
That fell down from the sky

If I'm not an alien
Where do I belong?
Been all round this galaxy
Searching for my song

If I'm not an alien
Send me back to bed
For if I'm not an alien
Who's this in my head?

Colin Dennis is poet that blames his military background and early exposure to Spike Milligan for much of his writing.

Just like the military, his writing constitutes ninety percent sitting around, and ten percent getting the job done – clearly a winning strategy.


Why to run half marathon?, by Jorge Leiva Ardana

Why to run a half marathon?

I don’t see myself in flashy clothes.
At my age, corduroy suits best,
why to run a half marathon?

There’s too many people
but I hate crowds,
why to run a half marathon?

I would skip training,
if there’s a chance of raining,
why to run a half marathon?

I prefer blisters
not self inflicted,
why to run a half marathon?

I can’t stand a ovation
when I’m last,
why to run a half marathon?

When all are gone
and I’m alone,
I have this thought.

Is it really worth
to run a half marathon?

Jorge Leiva is from South Spain and lived in Ireland for over eight years. Some of his work has appeared in A New Ulster, Skylight 47 Magazine, The Galway Advertiser, Drawn to the light press,, Dodging the Rain, 2 Meter Review, Spilling Cocoa over Martin Amis and The Waxed Lemon. In 2019 he was long listed in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.


Tania and Tim the Cat, by David Ludford

Tania and Tim the Cat

Troubled Tania hugged her cat

And gave his head a gentle pat

“I’m worried, Tim, about the moon

Surely it will fall down soon?

And then the sun, today so bright

Where on earth does it go at night?

I know you’ll think me a silly child

But thoughts like these just drive me wild.

I can’t ask mum, I can’t ask dad

About these funny thoughts I’ve had.”

Tim considered her worries and fears

Flicked his tail and twitched his ears.

“Dry your tears, no need for that

And listen to a wise old cat.

The moon when high, the moon when low,

Is where it is because God said so.

And when he speaks thus, from afar,

Things will stay just where they are.

The sun when past the church and steeple

Goes to visit other people

Our day’s their night, our night’s their day

When dark we sleep, when light we play

It’s all just part of earth’s great history

The way things are, there’s no big mystery.

Now I see I’ve made you smile

So now I’ll go and sleep a while.

Go out to play and have some fun,

I’m a wise old cat whose work is done.”

Author bio:

David Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton. His short works of horror, science fiction and poetry have appeared at a variety of locations both online and in print.

Adjusting Attitude at High Altitude, by Clive Donovan


My flight instructions are arrived;
My centimetred oblong allowance
Measured, sorted and obeyed;
My zippered kit of pastes, gels, lubes,
Creams, liquids, ready to inspect.
I know they'll nick my water off me
And, of course, bombs, and all components of bombs,
Are disqualified. But what's this?
An interesting list of new prohibitives:
'Knuckle-dusters, clubs, coshes, rice-flails,
Num-chucks, kubotans and kabusaunts.'
The dictionary is defining kubotans and kabusaunts
As 'Instruments of attitude adjustment'.

So assuming confiscation protocol is in its place,
We shall be flying safe. The pilot will eat his ready-meal
At high altitude with his attitude firmly not-adjusted
Holding steady to his pre-determined course
And we shall all be peaceable, intact, secure, serene and well
Immune from num-chucks and their clubbing cousins
Till we land.

Clive Donovan is a Totnes poet, widely published in magazines and with a first collection, The Taste of Glass, published by Cinnamon Press. At open mics he likes to see people laugh and cry at the same time.