Packaged, by Beth McDonough


Stiffed over a couple of continents,
you arrive, a strange-patterned flatness.
My six pairs of vacuum-packed socks.

A minimal method to post merino,
knitted-up bits of running Greek keys,
orange chevrons and lined tiny fish.

One dozen ribbed ankles all drill up one side.
Flip over for overlaps of bright toes.
Sealed-in little labels offer real heat.

But, I must burst your pristine rigidity,
pierce your unbubbled tight wonder,
turn you into soft, just workaday wear.


Severn Bridge by Mark Blayney

Driving Wales to England
there’s a windsock so you know
what the breeze is like.

Why isn’t there one
on the other side?
In a way I’m pleased

that, like me,
even a giant bridge
can lose its socks.

More embarrassing for the bridge
because its ones are bright orange and huge
I can imagine its mum, saying for goodness sake
how can you lose that?

West of the bridge
we drive through stunning earth

bracken on mountains
ice blue lakes freeze
soil compressed by blackened sky

scanning the horizon for a glimpse
of the gigantic sofa
that the sock might be behind.

Mark Blayney won the Somerset Maugham Prize for ‘Two Kinds of Silence’. His third book ‘Doppelgangers’ is available from Parthian and his first poetry collection ‘Loud music makes you drive faster’ will be published in October.



Dressing as a Man for a Day by Rachael Clyne

Licking your lip for a last slick
of sauce, is unappetising
when mixed with bristles,

No baggy tops, let your belly flop,
assume others will be riveted
by what you say, that facts

are love tokens, when words fail.
On no account show weakness,
or gaze at other guys.

Stand wide-legged, claim space.
It really is an issue. A rolled up
sock is no substitute

for a cock, but it might
just get you better pay.

Rachael Clyne‘s work has appeared in Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Tears in the Fence. Anthologies: The Very Best of 52, Book of Love and Loss, Poems for a Liminal Age. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, concerns our longing for the wild . She also enjoys humour.