Issue 28 March 2022

 Editor's Comments

Welcome to the first of two editions for 2022. Allegro has continued to attract a large number of submissions and I'm pleased to welcome newcomers to the journal as well as including familiar names. Allegro will open for submissions on 1st June. Details of the theme will be posted on the Submissions page in due course. In the meantime enjoy reading this edition.

Sally Long


The molecules of heartbreak 


Have now been identified. Neuropeptide Y 

is the chief offender. In the condition  

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy 

the left ventricle is stunned 

causing unbearable pain. 


Science has not yet characterised 

that chance meeting at the door 

of the Zoology Library. Or that long 

late summer queue for a Beethoven Prom, 

or that note that half said 

you might be half in love with me. 


But physiologists know exactly the blow 

the phone-call dealt. Not 

in the first seconds, learning 

you hadn’t suffered, but in the minutes 

of not comprehending, 


The hours of retelling news not yet real, 

the days of confronting absence. 

The months of mourning and the years 

when it is too long ago 

still to be spoken of, that are still years 

of neuropeptide Y. 


A website: ‘There are some scientifically sound 

methods of heartbreak healing 

you can try.’ They do not include 

obsessively playing over the music 

from your funeral. They do not include this poem. 

Christopher Southgate

A Place for Poetry 


A high light room. Long windows look 

Down a heathered hillside to a waterfall. 

Behind my chair, tall shelves house every book 

On which I might conceivably want to call. 

On either side wall, big bevelled mirrors 

Reflect books, view, books again. 

This is a place lacking all terrors – 

Absent listlessness, sorrow, self-disdain. 

I write in the mornings, in fountain pen, 

Interrupted only by my wife bringing tea, 

Or a little silver cat, demanding to know when 

I have ever seen anyone as beautiful as she. 

At evening, nurtured by much candlelight, 

I watch falling water fade into night. 


Christopher Southgate


Bathsheba Reconsiders

even if one strayed in the still night – blue wood smoke

coiling from your outhouse across a precipitous sky –

and a wrong-headed dog chased the startled flock

till they fell like scattered pearls among the rocks –


even if you were dreaming a woman – face like a peony,

tending hens and a cucumber frame, playing an oak piano –

so didn’t hear the running of the ewes, the regular violence

of their bells ringing on the ridge of the farthest hill –


even if you stumbled to the chalk pit – stood at the summit

where two beech hedges make a V but don’t quite meet –

leaned out and over the trampled banks of winter ivy

(head in your hands, your hat pushed back)


to gaze at dead and dying sheep – even then I would

say Yes – when you look up, here I will be

Elizabeth Barrett


An Interior


After Edgar Degas’s 1868 painting


What is her name?  Her customer doesn’t care.  

She is now mon cheri, or worse, la Lorette – a stitch dropped

from the weave of a Paris street.


How white her chemise, the only pure thing

in this soiled life.


Her corset lies on the floor –

a wing torn off a Common White.


There are closed rose buds stamped upon the wall,

a darkness that the single lamp cannot dissipate,


a narrow white bed, blood on the bed head,

his splayed legs blocking a way out of the room.


In the silence of the painting we must read symbols –


her sweet face - a moon half eclipsed by darkness,

he stands in a shadow, which makes two of him.


At night she remembers her mother’s voice,

soft and dusted with love

calling her Mon biquet, Mon Minou


Everything has more than one name.

This scene - some call it Intérieur, others Le Viol.


 After Edgar Degas’s 1868 painting Intérieur/Le Viol ( The Rape)

Notre-Dame de la Lorette, the setting for the painting, was home to many prostitutes.

Anna Saunders


Who needs solar farms?

Giant white turbines,                   still in the blazing sun,
all pointing one way                    like Easter Island statues
praying to lost wind,                   sadder than trees
though trees can be lonely too  when wind slips between them.
so that not even their tips touch.      Only their fallen leaves mingle.
Why take revenge on birds?              Boughs snap, destroying nests.
Blades concuss in mid-flight.           But everything’s renewable now.
Just wait.                                              Life will take wing again.
There might still be sunshine.          Trees will be enough.

Tim Love




anchored in remote memories

distant sounds wander in waves


dilate in the rising tide

swell    balancing on the breakers


ride the sea-foam

disperse and die on the shore


stray prevailing sounds carried away

steer between lull and storm


lose their breath

losing sail and helm


pass in a murmur

overboard    swimming off


to reach another horizon

derivations of distinct sounds


losing their footing

plumbing obscure depths


sounds running against the current

taken up in the aspiration


an unexpected magnetic flow

sounds melting into blue-green


songs undulating across

floating fields    breaking


in the surf

the sea lifting fragments and refrains


swaying the voluble emersion

in which words pitch and roll



form again

Jane Angué 



How young he is in this photograph.

No grey in the hair

and a fullness to the face,

not quite the jut of the jaw yet, -

and the eyes still windows

to a mind holding out for all things possible.

This is not the kind of man

to envisage a porch in November,

a slow rocking,

a garden pond

misty with ghosts.

He's young,

has achieved some things,

will do much more.

And if he could only speak

it wouldn't be in a crotchety voice

complaining of the cold.


No, look at that face –

there are ideas to proffer,

dreams to relate,

people to seduce,

frictions to balm.

The camera rends him speechless.

But it cannot mute the words he has in mind.


John Grey


One strand 


as at times before 

I breathe hard 

upon the embers 

of the draft of this poem 


where they have concealed 

themselves under grey ash 

hoping for dull red then  

red then orange flame 


possibly in the same way 

an ancestor in a highland  

croft coaxed the frugal 

peat hearth into song 


only the language 

we use has changed 

Gaelic to the now not so French 

lingua franca of the Saxon 


there are moments though still 

when the turn of a line 

the mention of the smell 

of kine in the house in winter 


clicks or clacks into place 

like lichened stones 

around a curlew’s nest 

warm stones around a fire 


Tony Beyer 



When you spoke the one-word cariad
it was a word shaped for lips.
Each syllable held its vowel
like a babe in its father’s arms 

and spoke of home
and walls and hearth-fires,
with bara brith waiting
on communal plates. 

Your roughened hands
cut the Sunday loaf
as fine as sacrament,
with butter twice as thick,
sweetened with bramble jam
and twinkling eyes. 

I sat on the piano stool
while your voice trembled
the do-re-mi
of earthy tunes
and the old clock ticked
the wide Atlantic of the night.


Gareth Roberts


We Know We Will Be Dead


We know we will be dead, who are alive.
But should some element of us survive -
fragment of consciousness or memory -
what value could it have? What should it be
that the whole universe might benefit?
The atom matters – what’s not made of it?
And we’re not large - not like a conscious star
(if time will let us all evolve that far).
You’re not much different in real magnitude
from an ant crushed for going for your food,
a gnat rubbed out, its tiny consciousness
a dot… but does it build the universe?
If that gnat can’t, I don’t see how you can:
there’s not much difference between gnat and man.

Robin Helweg-Larsen


Cartography of the Breast
For Malcolm


Two red plastic crosses mark the terrain

my surgeon will traverse tomorrow



Territories are marked 

Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Hus

on a map on the living room wall.



I am vellum

a parchment

a venerable map of Northumbria

my father bought before I was born

some distance from Lindisfarne.


Cords draw me to that place

I have never seen

isotopes reveal paths

radiologists mark the Sentinel Node

chart earth and ocean –

the breast’s sudden



Jane Simpson




I used to like Cox’s Orange Pippins –

shiny, light green, bloodshot –

from the tree in our back garden.

One Friday night – I must have been 9 –

with Eric Jackson and Stenton Withnall

we scrumped from our own tree

like country kids raiding an orchard.

Eric and Stenton ate four or five each.

Next morning in the school football match

against Hurst Undenominational

they were light green, bloodshot, didn’t shine.


Rod Whitworth 



 This field is like a clover 

museum, Isa said, this sage 


with five-year-old bones. 

That means that this tree 

is first a gallery 


of crows, so many roosting 

that there’s no tree, 


only crows in the shape 

of a tree. In a moment, 

they all lift at once, 


& pivot as one 

toward the lake,


which the wind has made 

into an exhibition 

of ripples. Your body 


is a museum of blood 

& curiosity, your head


a museum of fantasies 

& fears. Let us 

lean close then closer, 


& fog the glass 

with our breath. 


Let us shatter the glass 

& hold the relics 

to our tongues. 

Stephen Cramer


Hortus Botanicus



You were the tenth child, a tithe

for the church. So far

from sight.


Behind Benedictine walls you turn over

soft earth, plant bulbs in narrow beds.


Madonna lilies. Seeds of milk thistle, sweet

columbine. You’ve come to understand.

Veiled in each leaf the face of God.



Plantings of oaks pattern the land

one hundred years in growing

one hundred in dying.


The homestead is as old

as the oaks. When the earthquake hit

they stayed upright,

                          the house toppled.


Beside the folly we overlook bay

and bridle path. Walk past roses,

read names we mean to remember.


Virginia, at Monk’s House

The Fig Tree Garden is brick-paved, you kneel,

scrape weeds with a blunt knife. At night

he takes a lantern, goes outside, collects snails.


Darkness filled with the cracking of shells.


Together you plant for dry shade in the Walled Garden.

White forget-me-not, narcissi, wood anemone.

Wild strawberries scramble between gaps.


You write that L is doing the rhododendrons.

Walk to the Ouse with its steep banks

and fast-flowing water.


                                                  Still he waits for your footsteps.

                                                             Knows it’s the last page, still

                                                                                         turns it over.


Marjory Woodfield


Two Bullets


Who could have imagined two paths of flight

would suddenly converge at that one spot

and effortlessly intersect

to occupy the very same moment

in empty sky over Gallipoli?


Alike, but closer inspection reveals

(like a hornet connected to a bee)

the clear differences between the two,

although coupled: one passive, pierced through

by its grooved twin’s tip, bent ninety degrees.


Some think it an impossibility

collisions like this could ever happen,

citing odds of many thousands to one

and postulating complex equations

that pivot around angles, space and time,

the chances of co-obliteration.


But let’s avoid, for a moment, tangents

of trajectory and spatial accident,

marvelling instead at an impact caught

forever, and this tangled miracle

that two such things found each other at all.


Simon Smith


First Class 


If my CAT scan shows my term on earth is short, 

I’ll quit my job and fly first class to Paris, 

and drink in the cafes in Montparnasse— 

Dom Perignon, absinthe, vintage port. 

then I’ll board a first class train and sightsee Europe. 

(This time I’ll hire a gondola in Venice.) 

I’ll cancel my appointment with my dentist, 

quit exercising, give cocaine a snort. 

But if it turns out that my gut’s okay, 

not riddled with metastasizing cancer, 

I’ll meet my first class, scheduled for next Monday, 

and assign them this discussion question.  Please answer

Is it best to live a brief life full of bliss, 

or a tediously long one such as this? 


Richard Cecil


It's As If You're In The Next Room


Why do we always say that?

If you were in the next room

it would sound like you were on

the other side of the world

talking on a landline telephone.

There'd be a pause after we spoke

before you heard what we'd said,

as if the door was shut

between us and the next room

even if we were leaning against it

with a glass to our head

like a telephone earpiece.

What it really sounds like

is that you're in the same room

and it's the same time of day,

not several hours behind, or ahead,

and you're not hundreds

or thousands of miles away.

Peter J Donnelly



Ghosts are not persons.

They’re the haunting echoes

of encounters and confrontations,

of passions and hatreds with those

once close to whom we refuse death,

the reverberations of intense identity

with our lives that we cannot neglect.

We are our own apparitions.


Ed Ahern




From the Bangor Carnegie Library

I collect a slender book of poetry

entitled History of Rain,

tuck it under my arm and slip back

fifty years to grey, overcast

East Village.


Walking through a downpour,

my feet carry me to Fourth Street, 1972,

the narrow storefront chapel

of the little brothers of Jesus, their mission

to care for the poor in spirit.


I kneel in muted candlelight and wait

for what is still unseen.


History Of Rain is a poetry collection by Conor O’Callaghan (Gallery Press, 1993)


Tim Dwyer


Bare and beautiful


Yes, they're beautiful

clothed, especially when

the fresh new quivering

leaves first throw

modesty to the winds,

flaunting multiple tones

of green, while other trees

erupt in flashy blossom.


Discreet in summer's

bounty and fecundity,

soaking up sunshine

to store as juice in fruit,

hiding squirrel, bird or cat,

sharing shade or whispering

secrets to the breeze.


Showy in autumn

their leaves resist

the urge to


then, when the fight

       is lost

weep yellow, red

or russet



But now, and for the last

five months, I've traced

their finer lines

silhouetted against

the sky


and when I pass

in train or car,

the twigs and branches

in the foreground move

to interact with those behind,

creating diverse patterns

of a challenging complexity

that constantly achieve

curious kinetic harmony.


Alwyn Marriage


The Kiss


A lone swan bows.

            Scouts the river bed 

for weeds and worms 



as if by an invisible cord

    at its crown –


its orange and black bill


the water like drapery; 


and within the glassy folds

    another bill

tip to tip with the first,


   another white head 


 the swan and its watery self


in a vanishing kiss.


Hélène Demetriades


In the Silk Market, Bursa


Reaching for a sheaf of colour

to spill across the polished counter

he knows the answer already. Before I speak

he’s spread silk shawls, self-patterned,

and spun their rainbow. Stone walls,

narrow windows concentrate the light

to brilliance, deep pools; outside, enclosed,

a small mosque waits. In this watching space

centuries have handled their traditions

and silk has rippled, flickered, danced.

They warm the room, these shawls; each whispers

touch-me, take-me pulse of longing.

Only one is the right one, my hand

hovering like a dowser’s wand,

closing at last on this—or this? But, yes;

on this. 

             And though he knew, that moment

my shadow entered, which I’d choose,

he holds his silence. It’s the trader’s skill

bred in the han where the Silk Road ends.

Soft as breath the shawl settles at my throat,

a curl of heat, journeying on.


D A Prince


Red Car

A prowling climate
of worry and he works
in the clean poverty
of snow. Songbirds

muted and no cats.
He clears the drive
and car, his face
flushed and puzzled.

Don't you see?
his son asks.

Phil Wood


Berlin 9 November 1989


I was sleeping

when the wall fell

the core

of the city cracked

in two


we stumbled

over the open scar

            just like crossing

the road

no prickle of fear


over Bose Brucke

straight into the east

side     it had snowed

white rubble

in no man’s land


we could taste


on our tongues

like a first visit

you discovered


raw earth         strange

transparent streets

vast hollow


creativity stretched


its fingers

in the cellars

in the churchyards

towards a new

kind of light


Julie Mullen




After the surface was steam- cleaned

revealing a bronze patina underneath


the green corrosion, then only if you were

up on the plinth or, better still, high


on the scaffolding during restoration

would you be able to view each detail:


how the sculptor had added a rose

to the bridle of one horse, his precise


modelling of artery and sinew, and

the animals’ coats, their combed texture.


You have to step back to see the whole

quadriga, four horses rearing, driven


onwards by a young boy, reins in hand,

and only when you are much further away,


approaching the city maybe, can you see

that what you may take for a monument


to war is a chariot carrying an angel,

her arm raised, holding a wreath of laurel.


After The Quadriga on Wellington Arch (1910) by Adrian Jones


Caroline Maldonado



Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over three hundred stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of nine review editors.

Jane Angué
 teaches English Language and Literature in France. She contributes in French and English to print and online journals: Amethyst Review, Ink, Sweat and TearsAcumen, Erbacce, morphrog, Poésie/première, Traversées, Mille-feuille and Arpa.  A pamphlet, des fleurs pour Bach, was published in 2019 (Encres Vives).

Elizabeth Barrett’s poetry is widely published in journals and anthologies. Her collections include A Dart of Green and Blue (Arc Publications, 2010), The Bat Detector (Wrecking Ball Press, 2007) and Walking on Tiptoe (Staple First Editions, 1998). She has been the recipient of an Arts Council of England Writers Award (2000) and a Northern Writers Award (2018). 

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. 

Richard Cecil has published four collections of poems and has won a Pushcart Prize and a Pushcart "Special Mention."  He teaches at Indiana University.

Stephen Cramer’s first book, Shiva’s Drum, was selected for the National Poetry Series. Bone Music was selected for the 2015 Louise Bogan Award. His ninth and most recent book is The Disintegration Loops. His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, African American Review, Yale Review, and Harvard Review.

Hélène Demetriades' debut poetry collection The Plumb Line will be published by Hedgehog Press in February 2022.  She was highly commended by the International Poetry on the Lake competition, and shortlisted for the Wells Poetry competition, in 2021. She is published in numerous magazines and webzines.

Peter J Donnelly lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary.  He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter.

He has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich and Writer's Egg, and recently won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival Competition.


Tim Dwyer’s poems have most recently appeared in The High Window, Live Encounters and the Dedalus Press anthology, Local Wonders. His chapbook is Smithy Of Our Longing (Lapwing). Originally from Brooklyn, he now lives in Bangor, Northern Ireland.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages, Memory Outside The Head, and Guest Of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

Robin Helweg-Larsen's poems, largely formal, have been published in the Alabama Literary Review, Allegro, Ambit, Amsterdam Quarterly, and other international magazines. He is Series Editor for Sampson Low's Potcake Chapbooks - Form in Formless Times, and blogs at from his hometown of Governor's Harbour in the Bahamas.

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 has appeared in Magma, Rialto, Stand, High Window, etc. He blogs at

Caroline Maldonado is a poet and translator with four poetry translations from Italian published by Smokestack Books, most recently poems by Laura Fusco in Nadir (2022)   Her own poems can be found in What they say in Avenale, (IDP 2014) and Faultlines  (Vole Books 2022).

Alwyn Marriage's fourteen books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, –  recently Rapeseed and The Elder Race (novels), and Pandora's pandemic and Possibly a Pomegranate (poetry)Formerly a  university philosophy lecturer and CEO of two international literacy and literature NGOs, she's Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University.

Julie Mullen is a poet and writer living in Hertfordshire. She spent her working life in a library and has a love of reading, she also sings and attempts yoga. She has recently completed an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University and has work published online.

D A Prince lives in Leicestershire and London. Her third collection, The Bigger Picture, will be published by HappenStance Press later this year.

Gareth Roberts' poetry has appeared in various publications, including: OrbisAcumenSouthEnvoi. He was awarded joint first place in the Torbay Open Poetry Competition (2009); and has published a collection, What’s Not Wasted (Tawny Owl Press, 2016).   His website features examples of other poems and publications.

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), Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams) and Feverfew (Indigo Dreams). Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. Anna’s forthcoming book is called 

Jane Simpson, a New Zealand-based poet and historian, has two full-length collections, A world without maps (2016) and Tuning Wordsworth’s Piano (2019), and a world-first liturgy, The Farewelling of a Home. Her poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, London Grip and in leading journals in New Zealand and Australia.  


Simon Smith is a teacher, poet, nature writer and angling writer living on the Welsh coast. The author of two books of angling essays and verse, his poetry has appeared in journals such as The Dawntreader and The Journal, as well as online in places such as Creative Countryside


Christopher Southgate lives on Dartmoor. He has published four collections with Shoestring Press, a verse biography of TS Eliot A Love and its Sounding, and a ‘new and selected’ Rain Falling by the River. He has been commended in the National Poetry Competition. He teaches at the University of Exeter.  


Rod Whitworth has had work published in, amongst others, The North, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review, Fenland Poetry Review, The Journal, Pennine Platform, and some anthologies. He has had some success in competitions. He lives in the Garden City (aka Oldham) and is still tyrannised by commas.


Phil Wood lives in Wales. He studied English Literature at Aberystwyth University. He has worked in statistics, education, shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, including: The Wild Word, Abergavenny Small Press, and a collaboration with photographer John Winder at Fevers of the Mind.


Marjory Woodfield is a New Zealand writer and teacher, who has lived in the Middle East. Recent work has appeared in MeniscusOrbisPennine Platform, A Fine Line and takahē. Awards include first prize in The New Zealand Robert Burns Competition, and placements in Hippocrates, Yeovil, Ver and John McGivering writing competitions