Starless, by Patrick Chapman


Set to amuse an empress of India, diamonds are
not even fruit – but flush with satsumas

alone, try getting someone to love you for
money. Made in the whirl of a stellar

ballet, tangelos yield to the cut of my Japanese
blade. The crush of my hand makes me wonder

how diamond and orange are brought to our shores –
and what old blood we spill into new Mason jars.

PATRICK CHAPMAN has published nine poetry collections since 1991. Other books include a novel, three volumes of stories, and a guide to the work of David Cronenberg. His next poetry collection, The Following Year, appears from Salmon in 2023. He lives in Dublin.


Writing on a Roman Wall, by Ben Macnair

Writing on a Roman Wall
Personal Adds

The Eunuch Support group meets on Mondays,
where we will discuss how to sing the high notes,
and how farmers can trust us with their goats,
between the end of February, and the Vernal Equinox,
we will not discuss how the Emporer got the pox,
but we will write these things on the walls,
for all the world to see.

The Inn of the Mule-drivers,
come and damage your livers,
Happy hour is none too frequent,
if you are looking for a wench.

Meat for sale,
it will soon be off,
don’t come looking for our sympathy,
when you get a cough.

Speakers with the leaders in the town hall.
If they were of any less use,
they would be no use at all.

Wanted: Sewage worker.
If you know what the job entails,
you know why we are looking for one.

Wanted: Road Worker
Please bring you own shoes.
Must have an excellent sense of direction.

Wanted: Lion Tamer
Short term contract.
Immediate Start.

Ben Macnair


An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb, by Tonnie Richmond

An Archaeology Student Thinks about Sex in Maes Howe Chambered Tomb

She’s aware that Gavin’s staring at her bum
as she bends double, clambers along
the long dark passageway into the tomb.
The others follow, cluster round, eager to learn.

Her lecturer begins his talk; all about midwinter
when this tomb aligns with the setting sun.
He offers theories -
about it being a humongous womb,
the sun-god penetrating the long stone vagina,
rays striking the back wall, impregnating Mother Earth,
ensuring fertility and good harvests in the year to come.

As theories go, it’s pretty good.
Gavin’s standing close, she feels his body heat
in this claustrophobic chamber.
All this talk of penetration, sexual congress overwhelms;
her nipples tingle. She moves, imperceptibly,
leans in towards him. Feels his breath upon her neck.


Tonnie Richmond has, since she retired from working in Local Government, spent her time either doing archeology in Orkney or writing poems. As the digging gets harder, she finds writing a slightly easier choice. She has had several poems published and is currently working on a collection of poems about Orkney.

The Queen’s Secret Siberian Sisters, by Bryan Franco

Bryan Franco is from Brunswick, Maine, USA. He is published in the US, Australia, England, Ireland, and Scotland, has featured for poetry events in the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland; hosts Café Generalissimo Open Mic; his book Everything I Think Is All In My Mindwas published in 2021.


They Will All Take Us With Them in the End, (After Tom Lehrer), by Neil Fulwood

(after Tom Lehrer)

When you click into your news app
it’s not comforting that what’s hap-
penning out there is global brinkmanship.
Europe’s status quo’s been ballsed up
by a goon who wants to call up
every missile that he’s got and let them rip.

But don’t you worry.

No more Tory lockdown scandals,
no more guff about Prince Andrew,
or price hikes, NHS, or student debt;
if BoJo, Biden and Vlad P
push this shit past DefCon 3,
you won’t care about bent coppers in the Met.

‘Cause they will all take us with them in the end,
when diplomacy’s been fucked off round the bend
and a jab of that red button
vends total world destruction -
you’d be “M.A.D.” not to know how this one ends.

They will all take us with them in the end,
loudly claiming they had something to defend.
Was it a patch of foreign soil
or the current price of oil?
Did the Footsie close ahead right at the end?

Oh they will all take us with them to the grave,
telling lies about the lives they tried to save.
There’ll be no more cant and spin
with the planet all done in
and no world leaders left to rant and rave.

Down by the old maelstrom,
Liz Truss is wondering what went wrong.

And they will all drag us down with them in flames,
with no scapegoat left behind to take the blame.
We’ll finally be united
when that fireball’s ignited,
nearly eight billion unrecorded names.

They will all drag us down to dust and ash,
the victims of an act both cruel and rash,
dead as some assassin’s mark
care of a pissed off oligarch
deprived of his wads of laundered cash.

Of course they’ll take us with them in the end,
they’d do the same if they had their time again,
so hum a Missa Solemnis
just before that Yellow Sun hits
and the farewell bash concludes at Number Ten.

You will all go directly to your version of heaven.
There will be no hero to save the day, no 007.

For they will all take us with them in the end,
every man, woman, child, foe and friend.
When history overtakes us
and we all turn slightly vaporous,
yes they all will take us with them,
oh they all will take us with them,
yes they all will take us with them in the end.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has three collections out with Shoestring Press: No Avoiding It, Can’t Take Me Anywhere and Service Cancelled. A collection of political satires, Mad Parade, is due for publication with Smokestack Books in July 2022.


Tripping with TJ, by Steve Bailey

Tripping with TJ

by Steve Bailey

Tom Jefferson, while working on something profound,
Was surprised and distracted, buy a soft knocking sound.
"Do come in," he called out, "My daughter so sweet."
And tell me, dear Patsy, do you have my treat?"

"A traveler," she said," from far New Spain,
Journeyed through the cold and rain
He brought you these buttons and said with a grin
You should chew on them all for the mescaline."

He took all the buttons; she gave him a kiss.
For the next several hours, his mind she would miss.
"A truly new world now I shall see,
So, thank you, now leave my darling Patsy."

Strange images jumped in and out of his mind.
Tom found himself flying through centuries of time.
No longer was he in old Monticello
Not frightened was Tom. Instead, he felt mellow.

He was still in his country, but it was all rather odd.
The twenty-first century made him rather slack-jawed.
In each of the houses, colors made a box glow.
And from this same box, endless chatter did flow.

Close to one house, Tom moved in for a look,
Then a dog began barking, thinking he was a crook.
When its owner arrived, he called it Big Burr
It was snarling and snapping, this ugly old cur."

"This is my guard dog, and friendly he's not.
If he had a gun, he would so take his shot.
Come now, Big Burr, you're annoying us so.
Harassing a POTUS! To the doghouse, you go!"

Delighted, TJ responded with glee
"The doghouse is where A. Burr should be."
"A leader bad Burr would never make."
"A. Burr is a scoundrel. A. Burr is a fake."

"Whatever you're on, I certainly am not.
Can I offer instead a few bowls of pot?
The election returns are now on TV.
Come in the house and watch them with me."

On a couch, they then sat and toked on a pipe.
Watched talking heads talk and heard all their hype.
"So, this box called TV decides how it goes?"
And the candidates come from one of its shows?"

"The box, it must like you. It's as simple as that.
Did you notice we talk like The Cat in The Hat?"
"A cat in a hat? This is something new.
I tell you I'm learning, one thing or two."

"I want to say more, but now I forgot.
I say it's delightful, this stuff you call pot."
"This has truly been fun; I want you to know.
But the magic is leaving, and so, I must go."

"The questions I have for you come in a bunch.
Can you come back tomorrow and join me for lunch?"
But the room it was empty, it was easy to see,
No answer was coming. He was gone, POTUS3.

Back in his room, in dear Monticello,
For a time, TJ just sat, a reflective old fellow.
"How was your trip?" young Patsy inquired.
"You were gone a long time. Are you newly inspired?"

"I thought that my buttons would take me to God
To see if he's real or show faith is a fraud.
But that did not happen. No secrets unlocked.
Unless what we call God is this strange-looking box."

"I'm done with the buttons, though I liked them a lot,
I think I'll be better, just toking on pot.
The fate of the nation, it's easy to see,
Rests not with the people, but with a box called TV."

Steve Bailey is a freelance writer living in Richmond, Virginia. There he writes fiction, creative nonfiction, long and short stories. He has two novel-long manuscripts in search of a publisher. His writings are at

King Roger, by Melanie Branton

King Roger

Roger de Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and 6th Earl of Ulster, was heir presumptive to Richard II between 1382 and 1398

King Roger! We nearly had a King Roger!
So, did we dodge a
bullet or should we, in fact, bemoan
the fact that Roger never, ever
made it to the throne?

When Richard needed spies,
then he applied for the position.
So, Roger went to Ireland
on a very secret mission.

He skulked about and got himself
in thrilling scrapes galore.
Was he James Bond?
No, he was Roger, more.

To blend in with the Irishmen,
he found it a no-brainer
to paint his face a lurid blue
and wear the brat and léine.

So maybe he went AWOL,
but I can still relate if
he got a little overkeen
and went a little native.

Some said he took it way too far,
some said, “He’s off his trolley!”
but I say, like the pirate flag,
Roger was jolly.

Roger’s story reached its end
in 1398.
He walked into a brigands’ trap:
they fell upon him, straight.

They knocked him off his horse
and then they pummelled him about.
Alas, that was the end of him:

Roger was over and out.

Melanie Branton is a spoken word artist from the Bristol area. Her published collections are Can You See Where I’m Coming From? (Burning Eye, 2018) and My Cloth-Eared Heart (Oversteps, 2017). She is inordinately fond of hats, historical linguistics, and porridge.


Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland, by Pratibha Castle

Padraig – Who Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland

At the allotment, daddy
forked the crumbly black earth
till the air quaked
with anticipation
of excess, me
sifting stones
in search of treasure;
the robin sat, pert, on the lip
of the bucket meant to carry
spuds or cabbages, the occasional
giggle-tickle carrot
back to placate the mammy.

The bird’s eye bright
with a lust for worms, his song
a crystal cataract of merry;
though none of the seeds we sowed
ever showed head out of the sly earth
and we saw nothing of the slow worm
daddy promised so that, his name being Padraig too,
I guessed he must be a saint, especially
when he himself vanished.

Though he turned up
months later
at the end of school
again and again and again till
I had to tell the mammy
where the books and toys came from
and that got me sent off
to board at St. Bridget’s convent
where the head nun was nice to you
if your mammy gave her fruit cake in a tin,
bottles of orange linctus sherry, a crocheted shawl
like frothy cobwebs, none of which

my mammy could afford, Padraig
having banished more than snakes.

Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Poetry Press) publishes 2021. An Irish poet living in England, her work appears in literary magazines including Agenda, Dreich, HU, Blue Nib. Highly Commended in various poetry competitions, she reads regularly on West Wilts Radio.


First Mayor of Richmond, by Peter Kay


T’was sixteen hundred and six,
for legend has it so,
when, whilst out hunting all alone,
Robert Willance, future mayor
of Richmond, shattered his femur bone.

His horse, a noble steed of some renown
had always borne him well,
but as November’s dense mists thronged,
the bewildered beast bolted,
racing headlong into nothingness.

With Willance clinging on for life,
his horse plunged to its death,
two hundred feet o’er Whitcliffe Scar.
Robert lay prostrate, right leg broken,
twisted, breached, death’s door ajar.

With no prospect of immediate respite,
he slit soft belly of his beloved horse,
using a trusted hunting knife. No malice.
Plunged his leg in up to groin and hilt,
to try and keep it for his balance.

For two days he held on to life and limb,
before rescue came at last.
Alas whilst Robert survived,
his poor leg could not be saved, t’was buried
with due ceremony, in his chosen grave.

T’was sixteen hundred and eight
when brave Willance and his stump,
became first mayor of Richmond.
Eight long years, without a single blunder,
Before dying, reight well, in his slumber.

And so it came to pass that in his death requited,
Robert Willance and his leg were gladly reunited.

Peter has had two books published: A Pennine Way Odyssey, 2012. Show Me The Way To Santiago, 2020. A third book is with his publisher. He writes travel memoirs, fiction, short stories, monologues, children’s books and poetry. Three poems have been published in anthologies. His website is


King Edward VII, by Steve Harrison

King Edward vii {1901-1910}

had to hang around a lot
as his mam was Queen Victoria who lived for ages.
I never met him but I knew his face
portrayed sideways on stamps and on old penny coins until 1971.

He went all over the world, not just on stamps
and being very rich, with loads of relatives in Europe ,
he could stay in his cousin’s palaces.
Running errands for Queen Victoria
some say he invented royal tours ,
the meet the people greet
and even Sunday Dinner.

Google his images and blimey that’s not fancy dress
but what he could wear with all his titles.
His Facebook friends page
a right royal impress.

If you live in an old house it could be Edwardian
built between 1901 to 1910 like lots of houses in cities.
The style in houses and trousers remained until later.

The present queen’s great grandad
though rumours abound who his other great grand kids may be;
and though it may sound like treason
the rumours have their reasons.
In his own day, as famous as jedward.
The seventh King Edward

Steve Harrison from Yorkshire now lives in Shropshire. His work has been published in The Emergency Poet collections, The Physic Garden, Pop Shot, Wetherspoons News, HCE, Strix, several on-line sites and appears on YouTube as steveharrisonpoet. He performs across the Midlands and The Marches and won the Ledbury Poetry Festival Slam in 2014.