Jan, Jen or Jean, by Thomas McColl


I hadn’t seen her in years.
Her name was Jan, Jen or Jean,
I couldn’t remember which.

My face lit up like a fruit machine
when she caught my glance
as we passed each other on Southwark Bridge.

“Hi, Tom,” she said,
and as if she’d pressed PLAY,
I felt compelled to take the chance.

The names began to spin inside my head –
Jan, Jen, Jean.
I pressed STOP too quickly –
I had little choice –
and settled on Jean.
“Hi, Jean,” I said.

We passed.
I pressed COLLECT,
and got a sick feeling in my gut,
as the name Jan,
for first prize,
flashed before my eyes.

Thomas McColl lives in London. He’s had poems published in magazines such as Envoi, Iota, Prole and Ink, Sweat and Tears, and has had two collections of poetry published: ‘Being With Me Will Help You Learn’ (Listen Softly London Press, 2016) and ‘Grenade Genie’ (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). 


Neighbourhood Watch, by Maurice Devitt

Neighbourhood Watch

When she woke he was gone,
the scent of him still dawdling
on the stairs, phone
and wedding-ring abandoned
on the console table in the hall.

After three weeks, she packed
his clothes into a suitcase
and left it in the porch.
In the morning it had vanished
except for the shoes he never liked,
perched squarely on the step.

A woman down the road,
dowdy and disinterested
since her last romance,
has been spotted wearing lipstick
to the bin and the milkman
has remarked, in the form
of an open question,
how she’d increased her order
from one bottle to two.

Winner of the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2015, he published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press in 2018.

His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site.


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.



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.


Progressive by Brian Johnstone

The way she said,
“I thought you might,”
was my undoing;

my chat-up lines
remembered more
for absence

than success. I’d said,
“What sounds are
you into?” Not caring,

but just putting out
the only line
that I could think of

aiming to connect.
Not even that alluring,
but a girl

that was enough.
How she answered
long forgotten;

but remembered
– when she asked me
that same thing –

is her response.
“Prog Rock,” I’d said,
so keen to get it right.

She didn’t wait;
said, turning on her heel,
“I thought you might.”

Brian Johnstone’s work has appeared throughout Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, in North America and in Europe. He has published six collections, most recently ‘Dry Stone Work’ (Arc, 2014), and his work appears on The Poetry Archive website. His memoir ‘Double Exposure’ will be published by Saraband in 2017.



Measure by Paul Vaughan

Dear Dating Profile; I’ve read about you.
Do you fancy a coffee? Or a trip to the zoo?
“So, you’re a poet? Well, how big are they?
What size do you come in? How tall did you say?”

Sighing, I wish I’d been born not at home,
but somewhere exotic, like Paris, or Rome,
and could explain that poets’ hearts beat,
and are measured in metres, and iambic feet.

Paul Vaughan lives in Yorkshire with his cat Rosie, and refuses to eat custard unless it is in a vanilla slice. He has poems forthcoming in Sarasvati, Seventh Quarry and online atThe Curly Mind. When not writing, he moonlights as the editor of https://algebraofowls.com


The Internet Dating Profile Song by Josa Young

Bibble bobble
Stomachs wobble
Ciggies burn
Turkey necks gobble
Men with blondes
And men with bikes
Pints of beer…
Is that a pike?
Downturned mouths
And grey complexions
Urgent words
To make connections
Sofa snuggles
Grammar struggles
Nostrils gape
And stream and bubble
Desperation leaks from screens
‘I just want love!’
They seem to scream.
And yet among that sickly crew
There is the odd exception…


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.



Once Seen by Judi Sutherland

(based on a small-ad in “Time Out” Magazine)

You – seen at the night bus stop
completely pissed on alcopop.
Me – the girl with ginger head
who held you, while you vomited.
The WKD Blue that soaked my thighs
brought out the colour of your eyes;
so tenderly I wiped your face.
You smiled at me with vacant grace.

O glory that is Friday night
that puts the working week to flight!
What sweet oblivion portends
when alcoholic daze descends.
Have you, since then, forgotten me
and how our hearts touched, fleetingly?
If not, and you still sometimes think
of me, let’s go out, for a drink.

Judi Sutherland is a poet, formerly resident near Henley on Thames, now living in Barnard Castle, Durham. She is the proprietor of The Stare’s Nest and organiser of the Fledgling Award for debut pamphlets by poets over 40.