Issue 25 September 2020


Editor's Comments

Thank you to the many poets who submitted to this issue. It was good to see familiar names and also to welcome new writers to Allegro. The quantity and quality of the submissions means that Issue 25 is slightly longer than usual. I hope you enjoy reading the final selection.

Sally Long


Old Vienna 

The street musician’s violin
is even older than his veined hands;
his hat on the ground
holds coins tarnishing there
for so many years
their Franz Joseph heads
have turned brown,

brown as the old shop behind him,
a chaotic rummage of bookcases
where spies whisper from
the corners of their mouths.

The referendum that brings in the tanks
is yet to come, his melancholy waltz
whirls the men in uniforms,
women in white ball gowns,
faster and faster
until it all falls apart under the guns.

‘A typical street musician’
the tour guide says. Selfies are taken.
The musician smiles.

Ruth Aylett




Loose ends


Would I have waited through those long sad years,
drawn out neat threads to weave day after day
only to patiently unravel them each night
before the dawn light leaked from a pale sky
so that the promised shroud was never finished?

Odysseus was the warp on which
your life and faithfulness were strung
in sturdy, sinuous threads to carry
the changing colours of a weft that every day
covered this firm foundation, then was swept away.

Alwyn Marriage




Dark Ghosts

Some were packed head to tail to maximize
the shipper’s profit. Some died, cargo jettisoned,
Their seaweed hair floats in the waves,
veils the phosphorescence in their eyes.

In storms their voices echo in the wind,
threaded thick with lightning bolts. Traders unloaded others,
auctioned them, sent them to chop cane, pick cotton. Some bore white babies
branded with their owners’ faces.  Most didn’t make old bones.

They haunt the soil and sea. One night they cluster in dark water
by the dock to give a fellow ghost the welcome he deserves.  Headfirst, he sails through air, sinks below the waves.  Around him trails a cloak, kick-dented bronze, covered in paint dyed
scarlet as their blood.

He cannot meet their eyes. The old slaver tried in vain
to wash his hands, exorcise dark ghosts with charity,
good works. The sea, the air reverberate
with ghostly thunder, growing louder.

Susan Castillo Street




Pasiphaë’s Confession

Forgive me Father,
Eros kicked in my door as I slept.

I dreamt of flanks gleaming
like wet stone,
the suede nap of nose.

Father. I ran to Daedalus.
He used oak, mahogany,
built a wooden cow
hollow as the heart without love,

bade me clamber into it
so the ox would think I were one of its own.

A sailor brought the rope –
looped it through the bull's nose ring
pulled him to me.   

I was fragrant with vanilla oils.
As if it mattered to it how I smelt.

All night the violins are played
to drown out the sounds.

Father, the wood still stands firm,
and in the bed he built,
I swell like a pomegranate.

One day Daedalus will construct a maze
in which to entrap my hoofed son.

But first he brings the wooden beast
for me to enter into

as if lust itself meant
hunkering in the emptiness
of an animal’s heart.

Anna Saunders 




The elegant history of the paper clip

To hold the words together
            scribes made two short cuts
                     in the folding corner
threaded ribbon through them
                        skins of parchment
        or a dozen cotton papers.
Although         permanently   damaged,
            deeds laid down the law
                        for ever.

Later    slender iron rods
           were stretched and sharpened
                        into pins
whose smaller piercings
            stained            and rusted
       reams of acid wood-pulp.
After 1899
            a three-way     loop
                        of stainless steel
with two cut ends          concealed

A feat of design genius
         three gentle bends     and a snip*.

*Peter Rohles, industrial designer

Kathy Gee

Clearance       Bernary, Outer Hebrides.

I hear whispers sough through
this clachan now
buried in marram-tangled dunes.

Their stale breaths ebbed to Canada,
long-exhaled fears dispersed
on the wind's wings.
Alone this home hangs roofless
above the light-scoured bay.

Quicksilver pretends
to be water.
Water pretends to be empty.
Tucked in this lichened parcel
of stones I glimpse a grate, salt white.
Up close, other inhabitants are revealed.
Sheep's ribs gleam, stripped
cold in the sun.

Gulls scavenge tide pools.

Finola Scott




Time Games 

Later I will have this shelter
painted every shade 
of picturesque.
The holding hands
by the harbour,
a thermos of tea. 
Pictures on the front
of long-dead donkeys.
I’m filtering. The sea
jerks like old newsreel.
Cut to one day earlier. 
Bath. A girl. 

A few steps more,
one minute and she’ll faint
all over their disapproval.
Do they think it’s drugs?
Probably. There she is again
where the rain 
makes shadows
on the abbey walls.
A bus moves into gear,
the woman by the window
turns her head to smile
at the girl she’s with. 

Carolyn Oulton 





Small corner of my little world
where moors roll, slow-tectonic screwed,
the next just like the one before
except for megalith here pitched.
Not stone circle, henge or ditch,
but dolmen for some passing rich
in wisdom, leadership and wind,
more stolid than the wrapping clouds.
And here it stands, rock resting nest,
a granite witness for the land,

chronos and Kairos hand in hand,
suggestive how we model plans.

Stephen Kingsnorth





A punt on the Cherwell
moored under willows
cool wine in the shallows.

Chinese food, an Elvis movie
climb into Christ Church
Sunday morning dew on the Meadows.

A stroll in the Fellows’ garden
planted in diamonds of blue and silver
dinner by candle-light.

Fire alarm late at night
tumble down the stairs, half-asleep
a woman in silk kimono, jewelled slippers.

Summertown Bed and Breakfast
the single bed so worn
it had a hollow in the middle.

A paper at Green College,
dinner overlooking the Observatory
the last memory of my love.

Clair Chilvers




Saints of the Nineteenth Century

Could saints be put to the rigorous test of the
modern laboratory, would we have so many?
D. Vancoon

The nun, St. Clelia [sic], died in 1870 aged 23.
Exactly one year after her death the sisters
Tasted Paradise:
As rapt harmonics swept their choir,
Heaven-tongued, suffused with ecstasy,
Many fainted to the floor.

St. John Vianney, curé d'Ars,
Possessed the gift of reading hearts:
His people named it miracle,
His confidence impeccable,
Divining guilty sins sunk deep,
Like rotten fish, he pulled them up.

St. Gemma Galgani loved to suffer:
The thrill of the hard-flogged naked Jesus
Coming alive off the cross for her,
Transported her soul. She kissed his wounds
And groaned as if from Roman scourge
As welts erupted purple on her skin.

Saint Paul of Moll, visiting Antwerp, 1887:
A servant girl, Theresa, began to witness
Impossible birds: tapping windows, they sang rhapsodies
And swelled such hope in those brave, fragile, breasts, listeners wept.
He told her they were sentinels,
Exotic guests from realms beyond.

Prodigious were those conjurations of the canonized:
Their levitations, healings, incorruptible corpses,
Sympathetic replicas of Christ's torture and yet more...
But, ah! Those birds! In glamoured plumage
– Blue, green, ochre, white; melodic, perfumed, boldly striped:
Now that is a neat and saintly trick!

Clive Donovan





            614 – 680

Displaced too often in her youth
     By death as well as war,
She answered Aidan’s call to learn
     What else God had in store.

Northumbria, where she was raised,
     Became her home again,
And she was soon made abbess of
     Not only nuns but men.

Promoting Christianity,
     She served these people well,
Plus others yet to be released
     From paganism’s spell.

In managing the produce of
     The monastery’s land,
She earned a reputation for
     Vast wisdom gained firsthand.

This saintly woman was revered
     By princes, even kings,
And in her honor to this day
     Some sea birds tip their wings.

Jane Blanchard




The End of the World

Glass Rain

Like the orb of the earth
- from sheer neglect-
our skylight dome shattered
around our heads -
traces of blood on our hands.

The Revenge of Nature

The starving birds gather
avenging, menacing
wheeling, descending
on the glass telephone box -
there’s blood on her face.

Skating on Thin Ice

The hungry bear pauses
cubs behind her
as she crosses the tundra’s
melting ice
the journey is longer
the snow microplastic
cracks under her
she flounders and falls -
blood on her paws

Space Race

The Moon dust drifts, ghostly and grey
on the lost and eternal Tranquility Bay
and its million dollars of man-made trash

gold, the sunlight

70 unmanned crash-landed missions
96 packets of shite and wet wipes

2 golf balls, stark-white

buggies and rakes and stages and landers
rovers and modules and life-support pads

1 bible, bright red

geologist Shoemakers’s well-packaged ashes
Oh - and Bereshete’s 1000 tardigrade maggots,
and Johnson’s moon-crash Brexit date

1 blue Earth

Marion Baraitser




Mistress of Columbus

Columbus took her first
at the field’s bronze edge,
a simple orphan girl
on a heap of straw.

Beneath jet hair
her neck was pale,
under coarse skirts
her thighs were pearl.

He breathed in spice:
sweet cloves on her skin,
cinnamon and ginger,
soft hair in the wind.

She bore his second son,
bastard to his heir,
raising two scorpions
with equal care.

The captain took to sea
by the sunset’s ruddy fire,
guided west by a white star
and his cold desire.

His caravel caught
in the ocean’s black swell,
in a dark sea of storm,
drifted and tossed.

He remembered her
breasts white as tusk,
her nipples peppers
from Malabar.

Blown to the world’s end,
he remembered a bronze field,
green eyes, dry wind,
scent and soft tears.

 Note: The grand mariner Christopher Columbus never married Beatriz 
Enriquez de Arana. But he left his fortune to her, which she never claimed.

Dan MacIsaac




Christina of Denmark

In the space of three swift hours
while she swayed, wooed by courtiers,
the artist drew a calendar
girl for his lord and master.

Her pure skin Holbein flattered
against dark velvet robes,
stroking desire into the pose--
those pale, shapely fingers

gripping tanned gloves, the ring
boldly red as her parted lips,
the bow loosely tied like a gift
to be unlaced by a king.

Henry VIII, with pinup tastes,
took the jigged bait,
and ordered a full-length portrait,
casting his shadow in the paint.

A hot poker was the King’s caress,
and the twisting rack his mattress.
The fall of a well-honed blade
would take all colour from her face.

Dan MacIsaac





The Last Blacksmith
for Florence O'Sullivan, Castlemaine, Co. Kerry

He’s the last. Fourth generation.
In Boolteens by the busy road.
In fire - at his station –
Where hammer and anvil explode.

‘Tired? Never!’ he says.
Open door. Modus operandi.
‘While I’m able, these days,
I’m going to take it handy.’

Handy. Easy does it.
‘I fell in here,’ he says. ‘I’m here since.’
70 years at the fire pit –
Heat don’t make him wince.

But, what when the hammer drops?
What while the cars wheel by?
What when the anvil’s chorus stops?
What when the fires die?

Know he’s the last. Fourth generation.
In Boolteens by the busy road.
Still in fire - at his station –
Where hammer and anvil explode.

Steven Jackson




Ringing the Changes

The last note, intoned by the tenor bell
Falls from the belfry, and finds morning
With the lark’s song. In the high chamber
The bell-ringers, a tighter circle of men
Listen close, for the one who is missing
For their completed peal, rung for the dead man.

Their promise, fulfilled in that dying note –
The pact made, years back, when he’d asked them to ring
A round for him, for when his time was up –
Girds them like a steel, works its pull on their
Perimeter and holds them together.
None knew why it was he who’d asked first:

The request they had each wanted to make
Of the others. But then, none had seen him
Those years back, make that climb to the chamber
When his feet kept finding home in the worn
Ruts of the stone steps. An alarming fit.
Thought how he’d never noticed that before

Never felt time, tangible as hard rock,
Or known his years to be lost in the footprints
Made by generations of old, dead men –
Never imagined time to be falling away
From him, as if sweeping back down steps
Over marks he’d made, his every climb, before.

And so, he’d asked. Asked them all in the round
That day, in the high chamber, to ring for him
For when his time was up. And the circle
Alacritous, had played a turn of awkward
Nods, then fallen to distraction, to their own bells
To their harmony, and the practice in time.

Steven Jackson




The Working Men’s Club

A lad half my age drifts past our table drinks in hand and I wonder:
do I look the same to him as ‘men’ did to me when I was younger?
I recall hearty laughs, the thick scent of Old Spice
- heavy on your throat and eyes - and inappropriate jokes, like lies,
        designed to emasculate the victim.
I remember ciggies and smoke - even heavier on your throat and
        eyes, fettered to your skin and hair for days -
booming sing-a-long music and incessant shouting;
not aggressive like-a-punch-was-about-to-be-thrown shouting,
like someone asking the unknown at that moment, no Google to
        step in as arbitrator,
the quiz master having to shout and shout to be heard. And no one
And on it goes in my head like a tape recorder: constant table
        tapping, sticky seats, all leather, greasy;
nut shells, pork scratchings, drinks spilled - dirty looks given;
        darts and pool, players prowling like dogs ready to snatch up
        the bone cue;
open shirts, hairy chests, wrist watches and polished shoes, ticking
        down the seconds to the first scuff,
the chance of the barmaid’s attention long gone.
She’s giving the eye to the other guy until closing time, the guy
        with the golden chains and golden rings,
a wad of oily twenties stuffed in his back trouser pocket.
But I just don’t see how I can be like that to a lad half my age,
I’m not my old man or his mates and this isn’t then, this is now.

Alan Kissane





"I've fallen. Gather me." It was a trick.
Eve's fig and Paris' orange lost
their place. One bad apple fermented war,
thus love revealed its bitter core.

Then Tell shot an apple off Adam's head.
The evil Queen gave Eve a bite.
Judas kissed her, and she was born again.
The plump disciples danced for joy -

twelve men were bound to walk upon the moon,
for Newton from his distant tree
deduced that fallen apples broke no rules.
Though "apple" means so many things,

unpeel or peel them, they're still full of sin -
a single law describes them all.

Tim Love




At the Window

Eye-catching posters telling of concerts, stand-ups,
an hour or two of quiet meditation;
an open book in the sill,
flowers in a jar falling prettily.
Annotated sheet music nicely untidy on the piano,
calligraphy scrolled out over serious men in gowns.
Ballet shoes flattened under glass hang alongside
sit-ins, gap-years, graduations, high jinx
and reasonable art:
an idyll, a still-life, something geometric.
Through to the kitchen (looking out on a walled garden),
and a pair of eggs perhaps, a cold kiss,
the burying of last night’s barked humiliation;
a distracted study of blue tits
clinging to mortar, to feeders, to the aubrieta
that was never more beautiful.

Robert Dunsdon




Quake [L’Aquila, Italy, 6 April 2009]

The town has crashed, scars erupting
from its seams, mashed by the dry heaves
of tectonic plates colliding. A fallen

buttress lies in a street, smashed
like a sugar cube – gothic arches tilt,
like drunken bishops, in gap-toothed walls.

People talk in whispers, weighing
the sounds they make as if a breath
could blow their chimneys down,

a teardrop too heavy on fragile stone.
Their thoughts are eyes not finding hooks,
knots that slither open, will not anchor their dreams

in the red earth, which still spins, though it spills
its clay through jagged cracks, half-healed
and alien, like skin deformed by fire.

Louise Wilford



Funeral of a friend’s husband

He’s gone to the funeral of a man he barely knew -
met once at his wedding, shared a bad joke or two,
watched dance an awkward jig to the live salsa band;
said a word to his mum, wished him well, shook his hand.

Every Christmas, a card and a bottle of wine:
‘Love from us both’, which she’d scribble, he’d sign.
To his wife, they were simply two names on a list.
But, for him, the man’s wife was the first girl he kissed.

 They’d met years ago but he wasted his sighs
(O, that Meg Ryan hair – O, those Kate Winslet eyes!),
as she wanted a friend, not a lover, she said;
he could take her to Tescos, but not to his bed.

He’d been there when she learned of her mum’s suicide;
when the first man she lived with had hit her and lied;
there to carry her stuff when she moved out of town;
there to brighten her mood and to not let her down.

When she finally married the man of her dreams –
though by now these were coming apart at the seams –
he’d been happy to see them, well-suited and heading
towards a ‘good life’, as they said at the wedding.

But a part of him ached, as he sat with his wife,
for a different outcome, a different life.
He knew she’d picked well and not on a whim,
but he couldn’t help thinking it should have been him.

Five years later, her husband was told he was ill.
Six months later he died. They’d been happy, but still,
after all she’d been through, she deserved some more years
to enjoy married life and to put away tears.

So he’s gone to the wake of a man he half-knew.
He’s played the best friend, for what else could he do?
And each time he hugs her, he feels like a snake
in the grass, like a fool, an incompetent fake.

As the eulogies come to an end, his wife rises;
she touches his arm, and he now realises,
the woman he’s loved all these years is a ghost,
and here is the woman he now loves the most.

Louise Wilford





Here in a new box, old coins
we spill them onto the carpet
and small fingers pick out treasures.
A farthing, worn smooth
once the price of a meal
Indian rupees, Iraqi drachma
souvenirs of imperial service.
I think of my Grampee
young and splendid in uniform.
My sons make pirate cries
fight over this treasure.

Kim Whysall-Hammond





It was there

when I wandered on the great green,
an arrowhead appearing like a confession,
thin as a china teacup.

I knelt, drunk on the smell of the wet earth,
poked with a fingernail at this thing,
a finding all my own.

It had known life, this arrowhead,
awoken in wood-urged flame,
a primitive bullet.

It had known life, the slow essence of blood
had soaked itself into the metal,
insinuating colour.

I was wary; this thing of power
drew around itself fairy circles
of stony hills.

The sky was afire with greed,
the thick rain clouds massing and humming
as I knelt by this relic.

Francesca Weekes





Front page

On the major eruption's 40th anniversary (5/18/80)

Mount St. Helen's had erupted in death
a coast away,
and the front page layout sheet sat there
like an open crater.
The editor wanted more than AP offered.
He wanted shock.
He wanted Pennsylvania Dutchies to feel
the ground shake.
Words wouldn't do it. They had to see
the brimstone,
and it was up to me to find it blind
with a telephone
calling every newspaper within 500 miles
of the Cascades.
It had to be something no one here
had seen,
even me who had to negotiate its use,
once found,
based on another editor's description
a continent away.
So, I listened to every nameless voice
in black and white
sketch a view of horror that could explode
by deadline.
A forest strewn like match sticks across
a mountain,
gray with ash, a mammoth, seismic,
funeral pyre.

Eric Chiles




A Page from the History of Biological Warfare
                        The Siege of Caffa. Crimea, 1346

The stench of these latest victims
flies far beyond the power of words
but soon they will be gone. Even now
you can hear the catapults straining,
the taut ropes twanging ever tighter
as the corpses are loaded for shooting,
arms and legs locked in twisted dances
and now – there! – they sail right over the walls
like leaping fairground dolls then land
with drumbeats of thumping finality
somewhere among the stubborn enemy
and silent disease begins its work.
The ones outside have eaten mud for months
and now this coal-black plague harvests them like wheat.
Raw winter has made its own demands,
its icy hand dragging the failing sun
a little lower every day and hunger
squeezes till your bones stick out like broken sticks.
The ones inside could end this with a word
but they prefer to hear death’s steady roar
made hoarse and dull from over-use,
so let them taste the bitter pestilence.

Stuart Flynn






I have in the boat with me
my ten year old self.
Our balky little outboard
is a time machine

and on this familiar lake
the shore has not changed,
and rocks remain as they were.
We motor along,

Myself and me.
Exhaust bubbles up,
familiar and so oily.
Always remembered.

The Evinrude is aged
and troublesome,
but since it is now running
the years slide away

and on a summer morning

my ten year old self

and the old man he is now

make good company.

Phil Huffy






A soldier serving at Vindolanda expressed
a love of literature in a recently found letter.


           Dear unknown lover of literature
           who lived at Roman Vindolanda,
           distant outpost of empire established to
           defend the wall, did you enjoy the Georgics?
           Did they remind you of warmer climes;
           of different Mediterranean times?
           Was reading Virgil’s The Aeneid a thrill
           or was Horace more to your taste?
           Were the hexameters and iambics of Scribe
           Questorius’ politically correct satires and
           odes eulogising the principate more appealing?
           Or, like the illustrious Bard, did you most enjoy Ovid?
           Did his psychological insight help you
           through those long, northern winter nights?

Jeremy Gadd





I Love Your Tiger Feet

School Dance. 1974. Young teachers.
Released from jackets and ties,
we rushed out onto the dance floor
in our boutique slipovers and flares.
The kids said: ‘You look just like us’,

Left forward, right over, left back, right back,
that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat.

One of pop music’s strangest forks in the road:
long haired men in glitter or drape jackets,
Mud, Sweet, Showaddywaddy, Bolan, Bowie,
brickies in make up and always one guy
in women’s clothes with dangling earrings.

Left forward, right over, left back, right back,
that’s right, that’s right, that’s right, that’s right.

Who knew what tiger feet were or a tiger light?
Later we got strange phone calls to our homes
and a letter from a TV show saying someone
had put us forward for a talent competition.
The police found out it was two teenage schoolgirls.

Left forward, right over, left back, right back,
that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat.

We didn’t know where to draw the line.
They told us not to get too close to the kids,
but we had high ideals and platform shoes.
In retrospect, the older tweedy staff were right.
It wasn’t educational and it certainly wasn’t rock’n’roll.

Left forward, right over, left back, right back
that’s right, that’s right, that’s right, that’s right.

Norton Hodges




Pictures by condemned children
(Theresienstadt 1942)

that there might have been
a Raphael or Braque among them
is beside the point

every mark they made
that unlike them survived
is sacred

some drew houses with chimney smoke

parents and siblings
perhaps a dog

others painted dense fog
you’d walk into
and couldn’t breathe

Tony Beyer







for Anne Boleyn

Another serpent slips from me,
swims in water,
melts into the red.

I have a belly full,
writhing inside me.
Too small for arms and legs;
they are all face, all head.

Gill Lambert





Hampton Court Palace, 1555

April, and time for my lying-in.
The cot waits at my bedside
and tapestries drape the windows.
There’s a pleat of pale light.

My belly strains against my shift.
I feel a nudge inside as I kneel
at the prie-dieu, take my paternoster
and slide fingertips from bead to bead.

I, too, have known God’s grace
and conceived in my womb.
I, too, am blessed among women,
carry the fruit of England and Spain.

The court marvelled at my news:
morning sickness and ripe breasts
mapped with deltas of blue veins.
Then, the November quickening.

Cardinal Pole returned from exile
and fell to his knees on Catholic soil.
I helped him rise and life rippled
in me like a fish through water.

Te Deums were sung and Philip
looked pleased in his quiet way.
My Chaplain composed a prayer
for my safe delivery, oh, I ache

to see my child and hold
a healthy Prince or Princess
as my mother did.
I dream her face. I’m not afraid.

Sheila Jacob

stone circles

The landscape came first,
something captured in shared imaginations
solidified in stone.

Why build here?
Someone found it beautiful
and proclaimed it holy.

The rest follow as naturally 
as light falls across the soon-to-be-sacred stone
on mid-winter morning.

Warrick Wynne





Norham Castle
January 1473

Richard says compline before retiring.

Intersection, arcs, shadows.
Most of the border fortress eschews
light, the Northumbrian stone invisible
against the black Tweed slipping.


In the pre-dawn, half-waking, the sky is
blue-purple like monk’s-hood,
then the blue on a mallard’s wing
shifting to indigo, amethyst.

Richard says lauds, his backbone heavy.

Edwin Stockdale





After visiting the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds

650 BC
the mute one-piece skull                         
jails the brain
the eyes are lotus petals
open on the inside.

pig-faced head defence
the visor is a protruding snout pierced to breathe
slits for vision
only focus on foes.

Sir John Smythe,
golden etched decorations on the crest                            
hinged cheekpieces
silenced by the falling buffer
the engraved figures stand on a chariot striking a pose.

A helmet named Max,
for tournament rather than battle, a fool’s face
with ram’s horns and gold-rimmed glasses;                         
it grins at king Henry
a mask of fun.

the dish pan tin hat
to stop shell splinters and shrapnel,                                        
the eyes and mouth are free
to see and speak but not to slip away.

ballistic helmet with ergonomic shell geometry
lightweight made of Kevlar fibres and thermoset resins
available on the internet;
it reduces traumatic brain injuries and blast impact.

Carla Scarano D’Antonio





Animals of War

He had seen a horse die
It had broken its leg. Useless.
So his father had put a bullet between
Its docile eyes, weeping in silent remorse.

It was happening again across
The muddy fields. There were horses,
Injured horses, dying.
There was a rising wind
Of huffing
And deep agonised moans. Somebody
Had to go out there and do what his father
Had once done:
Put the creatures out of their misery.
Place a gun between their eyes and watch
As their lives galloped on ahead, leaving
Their bodies behind.

Never look away from him,
Show him your pain,
his father had said.
An act of solidarity – watch them die
As if they are your comrades, because they are.
All forced into war by the same
People, for the same hazy reasons.

Oli Gledhill





Ruth Aylett teaches and researches computing in Edinburgh. She has published widely in magazines - including The North, Prole, Interpreter’s House, Agenda, Envoi, Southbank Poetry - and in a large number of anthologies, including Scotia Extremis and Umbrellas of Edinburgh. She jointly authored the 2016 pamphlet  Handfast (Mother’s Milk) and her first single-author pamphlet, Pretty in Pink (4Word), is due out in 2021. For more see

Marion Baraitser is a published short story writer (Five Leaves Publications, London,2008, ed. Jennifer Langer)/Loki, 2004 London, ed. Laura Phillips) and several literary magazines including metropolitan. She is an award-winning published, performed and commissioned playwright (Oberon Books, London, Routledge). She has a PhD from Roehampton University and taught English Literature for Birkbeck University, London, for several years.

Jane Blanchard divides her time between Augusta and Saint Simon’s Island, Georgia.  Her fourth collection with Kelsay Books is In or Out of Season.

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. Recent work has appeared online in Hamilton Stone Review, Mudlark and Otoliths. Print titles include Anchor Stone (2017) and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press.

Susan Castillo Street is Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London.  She has published four collections, The Candlewoman's Trade (2003), Abiding Chemistry, (2015), The Gun-Runner’s Daughter, ( 2018)  Cloak  (2020), and a pamphlet, Constellations (2016).  Her poetry has appeared in leading journals and anthologies in Britain and the US.

Eric Chiles started teaching writing and journalism at a number of colleges in eastern Pennsylvania after a career in newspapers. Besides Allegro, his poetry has appeared in American Journal of Poetry, Blue Collar Review, Canary, Main Street Rag, Rattle, Snakeskin, Tar River Poetry, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Caught in Between, is available from Desert Willow Press.

Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist, and latterly worked for the UK National Health Service. She divides her time between writing and running a mental health research charity. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK and has had poems published in Ink Sweat and Tears, Amaryllis, Atrium, Artemis and

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Allegro, Acumen, Nine Muses, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Stand and The Transnational. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. He is hoping to entice a publisher to print a first collection.

Robert Dunsdon is poetry editor with Between These Shores Books. His work has appeared in literary journals, anthologies and newspapers both in the UK and in the US.

Stuart Flynn was born in Australia of Irish origin and now lives in Dublin. His first poetry pamphlet was published by Acumen Publications (UK) in 2001 and he has since then published various small press books of poetry. His poems have recently been published or will soon be published in Ireland in The Galway Review, The Blue Nib and Strukturriss.

Jeremy Gadd has previously contributed over 300 poems in literary magazines and periodicals in Australia, the USA, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium and India. He has MA Honours and PhD degrees from the University of New England and his writing has won several literary awards. He lives and writes in an old Federation era house overlooking Botany Bay, the birthplace of modern Australia. Further information can be found at:

Kathy Gee’s career was in heritage. Her poetry collection was published by V. Press in 2016 , the same year she wrote the spoken word elements for Her small collection of duologues – Checkout, set in a corner shop – was published in March 2019.

Oli Gledhill recently finished her first year at the University of Manchester, where she studies English Literature and Creative Writing: She received a first in his Creative Writing portfolio and a 2:1 in English Literature. She recently finished her first full-length novel, a horror/mystery titled Scraps.

Norton Hodges is a poet, editor and translator. His work is widely published on the internet and in hard copy. He is the author of ‘Bare Bones’ (The High Window Press, 2018). He lives in Lincoln UK.

Phil Huffy is a busy poet with dozens of placements over the past few years. Like many writers, he did something else first.  He has published two books of his poems, Rhymal Therapy and Magic Words and recorded the latter as an audiobook.

Steven Jackson is an English teacher living in Oxfordshire, a prize-winning poet at the Brian Dempsey Memorial Competition 2019, and a highly commended poet at both the The Ver Prize 2019, and Marsden the Poetry Village Competition 2019. He has been a shortlisted poet for the Fish Anthology 2019, published by Arachne Press, Meat For Tea, and featured in the Wolf Literary Festival 2018. His poetry was shortlisted for the anthology prize in the Overton Poetry Prize in 2018.

Sheila Jacob was born and raised in Birmingham and lives in North Wales with her husband. Her poems have been published in a number of U.K. magazines. In 2019 she self-published a pamphlet of poems dedicated to her Dad who died when she was almost fifteen.

Stephen Kingsnorth
, retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 100 pieces accepted by on-line poetry sites including Allegro; and Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, Foxtrot Uniform, A New Ulster Poetry Magazines, anthologies ‘Pain & Renewal’ & ‘Identity’

Alan Kissane teaches English in the East Midlands, UK. He has a doctorate in History and has published books and articles on medieval history. He is making his first forays into the world of poetry.

Gill Lambert is a teacher and prize-winning poet from W Yorkshire. She has been published widely online and in print and her collection, Tadaima was published last year by Yaffle. 

Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK. His poetry and prose have appeared in Stand, Rialto, Magma, Unthology, etc. He blogs at

Dan MacIsaac is a barrister. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Stand, The Interpreter’s House, Orbis, and Ink, Sweat & Tears.

Alwyn Marriage's eleven books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She is widely published in magazines, anthologies and on-line, has won prizes for her work and gives frequent readings all over Britain and in many other countries. She is Managing Editor of Oversteps Books Ltd, and a research fellow at Surrey University.

Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature and Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is the project lead for in collaboration with JSTOR Labs. Her most recent collection is Accidental Fruit (Worple). 

Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Anna’s forthcoming book is called Feverfew. (Due Indigo Dreams Summer 2020).

Carla Scarano D’Antonio lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. She is currently working on a PhD on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading.

Finola Scott is Makar of the Federation of Writers. Her poems are published on postcards, tapestries, posters and magazines including New Writing Scotland, PB and Lighthouse. Her poem was recently Pick of the Month at I,S&T.  Red Squirrel Press publish her pamphlet Much left Unsaid. More poems at fb Finola Scott Poems.

Edwin Stockdale has an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of Birmingham.  Two of his pamphlet collections have been published by Red Squirrel Press: Aventurine (2014) and The Glower of the Sun (2019).  Currently, he is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University.

Francesca Weekes is a student of English at the University of Cambridge. She has previously been published in Notes and BAIT Magazine. One of her poems is soon to be published in the Cambridge Review of Books. She is usually to be found curled up with a book.

Kim Whysall-Hammond is a Londoner who now lives in rural Berkshire. She has been published by Ink, Sweat and Tears, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Amaryllis, London Grip, Eternal Haunted Summer and Crannóg amongst others. Kim shares poetry on her blog ( ).

Louise Wilford,  Yorkshirewoman, has had over 100 poems and short stories published and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions, most recently the £750 Arts Quarterly Prize.  She is currently nearing the end of a Masters degree in Creative Writing, and working on a novel inspired by The Tempest.

Warrick Wynne is a poet and teacher based on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently The State of the Rivers and Streams, (Five Islands Press) His poetry home page is at