john e.c.

Terri Aggro     Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

GOD: In the beginning there was a poem about a God

In His once upon a time was His happy ever after.
Emerging from the chrysalis of His own potentiality
He stood, immaculately conceived, top filled to bright brim with youthful
Like a March calf amongst the buttercups
At the solid base of His consciousness-
And there He waited, panting with desire, while deep in His
Fiery bowels, time chugged and giggled
Bashful as a firing squad in love, and explodes....
His heart, that vast pumping plant of light and space,
Flinging reality spinning outward to its bounded infinity....
In the first moments before knowledge of God and Devil, claws and defect,
Before the fall of original incompetence
He stands, insanely beautiful, as bright and brainless as an orgasm,
Blood erecting His crumpled form, the translucent membranes
Of his quadrifid ears stiffening into divine shapes...
They beat the air, and a terrible wind arises,
Billowing through the age of inertia,
Beating clouds of mathematics from His trouser cuffs,
And the sun shines out of His bottom.
He raises His head, His teeth chatter, His toes curl, His tail frisks-
And He speaks!
Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm, he says,
Clearing His throat of polystyrene and bubble wrap,
Let there be such a thing as a Heap! And a Drawback!
Let there be Fragrances and Destinations! Herbs and Hubs! Inflorescences and Osculation's!
Mountains Fountains Indignations Mice Coronas Hippopotami and- and
With a hop skip and a jump He ascended
Into the primordial haze of the purple skies
Flying for joy.
(Happiness was God's natural element
And today was the beginning of His end).
Aeronautics created He then: the Barrel Roll and the G-Turn
The Scissor the Split S and the Immelmann Manoeuvre
The Jink the Aerlion Roll and the Victory Loop,
And then God turned downwards and from the superfluity of possibility
He created the Out of Control Nosedive.
He saw the base of His consciousness beckoning His descent
And He saw that it was good.
He saw antelopes' gracile scatter over the spilling pampas
The mountains' crumpled satin spines
The wildly beautiful spread of everything
The widening darkness of His own shadow rising to fill
The horizons cup
And it was at this point that He created doubt
And second thoughts
Fear and trembling, disillusionment and despair
Also seemed like good ideas,
Irony, art, metaphysics and religion also occurred to him
Just in time to be too late
As he hit the last line of the poem.
(This one)


Evan Hay

resident in Britain




in the small room

which he called his sanctuary

she keeps the box on a high shelf

a reliquary of sorts

an unopened packet of GI cigarettes

two Red Cross letters

an all skin and bone convalescent photograph

and a spoon


six inches long


mass produced

deep oval head


without shine

seemingly taking in more light than it gives


she says somehow

he held onto it

through the camps

the marches

eating scraps of anything given

or scratched along the way

he said he ate soup so thin

he could read his tattoo through it


she allows its coldness in my palms

I gently roll the terrible presence of the past

between my fingers

beginning to grasp its denseness

through the leaden spoon


substance relic

trauma object

heavily religious



London, England



Thicker, Richer

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

down come the torrents and up go the flames

we have our fire as they have their flood

we yelled from the roof the loudest we could

the mailman came sailing, calling our names

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

fighting the inferno came to no good

you clothed and fed us, all the same

we have our fire as they have their flood

neighbour, you cared for us, like flesh and blood

and likely as not, you’d do it again

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

your truck made it through to where we were stood

never great friends until then, when you came

we have our fire as they have their flood

the river washed away our livelihood

but a thicker and richer soil remains

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

we have our fire as they have their flood


Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA



Early evening, late summer.

Swallows twisting tails above us

As we have our cuppa in the yard.


Her reminiscing. Family history, mostly.

Some of it old, some of it new,

Some of it wrong.


Aunty Sissy had a B&B in Blackpool,

Not Morecambe.

Grandma’s Yorkshire Terrier wasn’t Kitty,

But Candy.

And she didn’t teach dad how to play draughts:

He taught her.


So it goes on

And becomes a game of spot the mistake.

But I don’t contradict her.

There’s no point in that.


Eventually she pauses, takes a sip and notes that

They’ll soon be gone north.


Again, I don’t correct her

But lift my lukewarm cuppa

And take another gulp.

Janice Smithers

Pontefract, West Yorkshire



I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!

For years I’ve felt trapped in my hum drum life,
Working int’ foundry to earn brass for the wife;
So she could stay home looking after her Mother,
Her budgie, her whippet and even her brother!


For years I have been at her beck and call,
Fitting her kitchens, rewiring the hall;
So now after years of toeing the line,
I want to do something that I can call mine!


In moments of solitude while sipping a brew,
I’ve studied - improving my mind on the loo;
“What are you doing? The dog needs a walk!”
I obey commands now, we no longer talk.


She smiles and laughs when I try to protest,
As I stand covered in grime, stripped down to my vest;
Trying to discuss the beauty of art,
All I frequently get is: “Don’t you start!”


In the public library reading book after book,
Devouring poetry till my whole being shook:
But my wife isn’t interested in the learning of verse,
Her responses to me are becoming more terse.


I bought a violin and learned notes of the stave,
Of studying concertos I became quite a slave;
But she snorts her disgust and loudly she sneers,
And goes back to her CDs of Britney Spears.


On sculpture and form I could hold seminars,
I can carve stone and granite and even weld bars;
But my efforts are met with disdain and pure mockery,
As she throws my statuary onto her rockery.


Michelangelo’s art work puts fire in my soul,
His use of a brush has long been my goal:
But my efforts at painting have long met with hate,
Unless I am glossing the front garden gate!


I think I have now reached a point in my life,
When I have to appraise the cause of my strife; 
She’ll have to go! I’ve got to break free!
I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!



Whitby, North Yorkshire

Personal Soundtrack


big bro is




death rock

epic doom in every room

crust punk

for sure


that’s right little bro

big bro is



post grunge

freak folk

cross-over thrash my ass forever

that crunkcore mother


agree there bros

big bro is

industrial emo

make that screamo


born unkind

black metal


in for the kill


well that’s enough of your noise

you three

I don’t hear that at all


not me

only feel his trembling

the vibrations


and I only have

ringing in my head

unless you come and calm me

mother always said

your whisper

was the only music I ever heard


Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA



A Single Fly


Sometimes the presence


Thirst quenched from fountains on Liberty Square.

Swallows writing summer in freehand,

high above the palace. 


in a prison         


River kissing banks

below the suspension bridge.

Lovers lock and release, lock and release.


of a single fly


Warm breeze blowing flyers 

into the blackened windows of vehicles.

Lines of birches dancing in Havel Park;

leaves holding firm.


stirs into life


Through gates onto open fields, 

butterflies, wild flowers and waving grass.

 Smiling faces coming forwards,

arms raised.



a thousand illusions.



Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London



Bouncing Back


Losing all my shine, now patchy and bald.

Neglected in a puddle by the bin

Then kicked on all sides by the lads again.

Getting tough to bounce back. Deflating, old.


Stood and sat upon. Booted through the dirt.

And always subjected to mockery:

‘Hey, look at me, I’m having a baby!’

Shout boys who stuff me up their bulging shirts.


Soon for the skip, no doubt; but I’ll arise!

Thrown with intent, I’ll mark their young faces

And strike them hard in their tender places.

A clouted nose will bring tears to their eyes.


I, ball aimed straight and true into the balls,

Will bring me sweet revenge on one and all!

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire

I, This


I hardly think before I speak

The words I learned from others.


But hear this: I was born on a day not of my own choosing.


Earth gave me weight.

Light coloured my eyes;


And now when I close them

It is sleep which fills my hollow head;


Dreams come from the night,

Warm, like your lips on my cold ones.


Love is not my invention;

You are teaching it me. Thank you.


If only I could sing to you

A song of my own making;


But I cannot, for I am this.


Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London



I heard the secret call of the unambiguous,

Like framing the story of an untaken chance


I get then handed over.


It is the colour of hands tried and tied,

Feel of a walking-stick, always a step ahead,

And love means water for its flow goes so chary

Its flow just a metaphor that is so real as we live.


So, framing a story means a war is a war


A war in the beginning looks like a stone

Pieces and pebbles, made for some good, and curious better

Pebbles need the beach, to keep lovers at bay

Pieces are shared like partners swapped,

I got the call, my turn then over


It is as simple as warring sets,

You have me reminding and I have a chance,

Random is a cuss-word, secret of war


Something is relevant, you call it dream


Jayanta Bhaumik

Kolkata, India



Do You Take Your Coffee Black?


I catch your eye

as your Rothmans haze clear-

you smile and twist a curl

of long blond dishevelled hair

around your index finger,

an unspoken invitation

to whisper sweetly,

through dangled earrings,

into gently nibbled ears.


In the twilight of sobriety,

you flitter with butterfly wings,

I’m open to your seduction,

and I promise I’ll try

to satisfy your silver dancing.


And when the moment comes

its beauty is distorted

even more than your face

which has moved far beyond

any resemblance to death.


I’m still thinking on this

when you offer a cigarette

and light up yourself.

I’m blowing curls of smoke

when you break the silence:

“I’ve run out of milk-

do you take your coffee black?”


Keith Davison


Ex-Gateshead, England






Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

The conflagration comes; comes and is near.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.


Raising kindling altars; think it obscene?

In tinderbox land there’s little else here.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.


Fear not the flames; holy men do not scream;

But quietly prophesise, ear to ear.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.


Water colours earth; paints serene greens, for

Hours or days or weeks or months or years, yet

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.


A phoenix, her plasmatic wings agleam,

Ignites our sleep: torched from the photosphere.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.


Pyriscent seeds rest; patient for extremes.

Infants of the scorched plain will reappear.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

The Baron Aargh!

Newcastle, England



Unusual Professions And Their Sine Qua Nons


Anarchist: endless pointless meetings


Bacteriologist: dirty kitchen


Cat groomer: scowly Persian red


Donkey man: beach


Elf: Christmas


Fingerprinter: ink, accused


Gigolo: erection


Hedgefund CEO: supreme greed and arrogance


Illusionist: politician


Jacob Rees-Mogg: hubris


Kite maker: wind or good farts


Looter: riots in urban areas


Mountaineer: knowing which way is up


Nobody: excessive masochism


Orangutan: forest


Pantomime horse: partner (front or back)


Queer: excellent grooming


Reveller: parties


Simpleton: Facebook


Time traveller: watch


Undertaker: botox


Vampire: decent fangs


Writer: delusions of bestsellers


Xylophonist: wood


Youth: touching faith


Zeroist: nothing


Cross reference as desired or required

Attempt these professions at your own peril


Huddersfield, West Yorkshire




Spinning Hands


Time rides the tide onto migrant shores;

Washes sand through his tiny mouth and nose.

A decade marches a family up the Metzgerstrasse to the tick-tock rhythm

Of soldiers’ boots; her little arms outstretched at 10 to 2.

Long minutes on the paediatric ward.

Flowers at the school gates draws a gathering of hours.

Intensive moments: what to do with her photographs, his toys, their clothes?

A vacated cloakroom peg brings a century to a close.

Canals, dykes and slurry pits; a millennium clocked

By the spinning hands of drowning boys.

Mother hardly spoke again: choked on the year of your missing.

Father’s singing voice reduced to a low whistle

From the day your heart gave way - as did ours -

Between the passing of two small seconds.

john e.c

Hull, East Yorkshire

And You Who Never


Shrouds of rain over St. John’s Lane.

Archipelago of faith; puddles, an island church.

Candles flicking shadows across the nave,

Making gargoyles of the Boy’s Brigade.

Communicants circle as Sunday drains to its dry centre.

Clem the Organ holding out damp palms in anticipation;

The vicar heating the wafer to softness on her tongue.

Lightning on the windows of the dripping saints;

Thunder rolling across the drenched parish;

The restless wind rattling the knocker.

Weather-veined, the Clements turning their backs on the draught;

Miss Joan finding the chalice warm between her lips;

Wine, fire-red,

Trickling down the throat of Thirsty Bob.

Geoff Tracey

Otterburn, Northumbria

john e.c.



and all we hear is Micah says this and Micah says that

you and your remnant of naysayers from Moresheth-Gath of all places

that toilet on the Shephelah

more of a shit-hole than Elmsall

on and on in mixed-messages:

'fake-news loop-holes'

'zero-hours landlords'

'minimum-wage bankers'

blah blah blah

spreading your poison from Grimethorpe to Zaanam

Orgreave to Adullam

the land of sour milk and honey


and blaming it all on us

here in the big smoke


haven’t all our prophecies come true?

the city’s never looked so flush

The Temple’s in spanking nick

Jerusalem’s just one big pie, enough to fatten all them that want to get on

food banks for them that won’t help themselves

so don’t speak to us of our ‘incredible capacity for wishful thinking’

and ‘nights without vision’


who wants to hear

quote: ‘I’m no hireling prophet.

It’s not my function to comfort, encourage and uplift’?

cheer up, misery guts

liken us to Ichabod all you want but He won’t turn his back on us


because we’ve never had it so good

all He wants is His people’s happiness

simple as

so take it from those in the know


best to keep your trap well shut if you know what’s good for you

got that?

all that ‘call-centre poverty’ and ‘tax justice contracts’ nonsense

cut it, understand?

you fetid-goat-balled-God-botherer

Moresheth-Gath indeed

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire



We watch them on their rooftop

Gentle in their secret joy

Naked smiles

Mouthing prayers

Not of our instruction

See her

Eyes closed

The one with the silken hair

A babe at her breast

And her sister

The darker one

Daring to bare her neck

As she bows her head


When they bathe the young ones

They sing

Hymns we have not taught them


In the evening

And when the sun goes down

They kneel

Hips and thighs

Framed by moonlight


Furtive female praise

Alien to our ears

The brothers


From the tops of houses 


Arundhati Lahiri


Dollis Hill, London                                                                                                     



torching eir botts en orr arborr

slaughter te lot of em

even te women

dunt want no moor of eir blodd infecting orrs


burning tat dammdid bokk

crushing eir wheat underfott

domping te gifted weepons en te sea

weve sticks n stonns n plenty of em


what use for eir cloth

meats n radd wine

we go naked agen

grobbing for roots

lapping from clear polls


te young desporr

self harming som of em

hiding en caves

scaping oonly t droon


hating os

te old te wise

but em will know te island

as we knew it


bleeding for te gods

sacrificing eir yoth for ere

orr om

not eirs from te big island


Kye Conlan

Leeds, West Yorkshire

De Lenz      Hull, East Yorkshire



What disturbed him the most was our laughter

Not the screaming


Hair tearing

Raging from room to room

The usual

But our not crying from behind the door


First it was you

Then it was me

Then together

Bedlam style

How we laughed at the comedy

Of our temper fit

Disappointment performed to perfection


And when the knock came

We laughed some more


Laughing at never having laughed this way

Oh sister we wish you could have laughed with us

When he asked

Are you alright in there

Zoe Marklew

Distington, Cumbria

Pool Closure


Butterfly, backstroke.

Speedos on slow blokes.

I love the smell of chlorine in the morning.

Don’t worry cocker,

here’s some change for a locker.

Can’t you two read? We don’t allow petting!

We swam outdoors at Grantchester.

Yes Sir, halcyon days, but this is Manchester.


We share shampoo.

She first swam at eighty-two.

Sons plunge deep and dive for daughters.

Sixty-four lengths equals one mile.

Lie me down on green tiles;

lead me beside municipal waters.

You’re Simmonds and I’ll be Wilkie

and later hot chocolate, all sweet and milky.


Gosh, what a laugh,

how we say ‘barths’ and they say ‘bafths’.

Byron swam the Hellespont, Caesar in the Nile;

Webb trained at Lambeth, length on length.

Olympic legacy? Give me strength.

Screw-kick, arms flail, let’s all do the free-style!

Lost your pink goggles, let me see…

He kissed me in the deep end, back in fifty-three.


A springboard plop;

belly laughs for belly flops.

All of the fatties are lighter than feathers.

Lady friends, short and stout,

swim in tandem and gas about

husbands and ailments and kids and weather.

Three private to one public: So?

Oh, how we weep when we remember the lido.


Pool, sprite-bright;

synchronised with dancing light;

sometimes warm and sometimes freezing.

Look, it’s gone and shrunk;

I’ve lost all feeling in my trunks!

Pushing us under, their rhymes and reasons.

Armbands and floats, deflated, still;

England, closing down, drowns her own for want of skill.


Opened in forty-seven

By Atlee, or was it Bevan?

These lanes forget more than we remember.

Mother taught me how to swim

or maybe it was Uncle Jim.

We close at nine and then in September.

No tucks, no turns; will our limbs sleep

and cease to draw circles on the face of the deep?

Billy Unwin

Salford, Manchester

Home Time


From her habitual high chair

She asks again

How long have I been here?

Not being sure, we shrug;


Though time for us is measured

In her repeated questions,

Our not varied answers

and the silences between.


The tempo slows further

With the stroking of hands,

The sipping of tea

And the coming and going of carers.


The TV flickers then flickers some more.


It is windy outside

And leaves brush the window

As a jazz drummer might a snare

To offset the beat.


But inside

All is regular.

Fine dust hangs in trapped sunlight,

Neither falling nor rising.


The pulse of the afternoon steadies

As the elderly take their nap;

Breathing in unison:

In, out, in, out.


She too succumbs to the hypnotism

And as we leave I ask

How long have we been here?

But you shrug,

Not being sure.

Beryl Ashman

Normanton, West Yorkshire

john e.c.



The call of nature followed you into the men’s room;

Caught you with your zip and mouth wide open.

His great sax split you several heads:

Skee-sa-woo-eek-swork! Swee-sa-kroo-ork-eeeeee!

Blew your fuckin’ mind, you said.

Graham S.Crosby

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Other Towns


It’s usually on a Sunday

when we leave them at the bus terminal

or at the railway station.

Sometimes we take them to other towns;

we unload their stuff, take a stroll,

have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

kiss them and go.


It’s usually on a Sunday

when we collect them from the bus terminal

or the railway station.

Sometimes we pick them up from other towns;

we kiss them, take a stroll, have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

heave their stuff into the car

and go.


Sometimes we leave them.

Sometimes we collect them.

It’s usually on a Sunday.

Andrea Birch

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan


Vodka falls as rain; drains from the hills;

Seeps along the skeleton coast into the livers of the damned.

Beached, they reach for cigarettes.

Smoke drifts from their mouths;

From the court house, over the gaol, onto the church

And back again as incense.

Blackened windows; rifles in the boot; on your knees:

The gutturals of gunfire mark their speech.

Sex is the cold, hard grip on a Kalashnikov.

The orthodoxy of a venal creed

Begets orphans; drowned wives; Job imprisoned.

From Moscow to Pribrezhny and all stops in-between,

Hell is corruption;

Framed within the carcass of a once living whale.

F. Pat Quigley

East Dulwich, London



due north from Butt of Ness

meridian bearing

holding Polaris tween halyard and spar

Brenhilda riding



whaleback waves

to Sula Sgeir


not for you North Rona

Sula’s green sister

your brother’s safe keeper

but here

where bore holing Atlantic

crashes over peak jagged black


earwig plagued




acrid guga

gelid lungs

Palled salt air

freezing mists

westerlies squeezing innards

like sea-battered timbers of Sgoth Niseach



apprentice to signs


reading phosphorescent swells

as wonderful book

understanding high cries

of returning petrels

attentive to own time



blasted scene

of thy resurrection

Guga men

finding ribcage housing shags

taking skull for kist

rounding dark gneiss prow of headland

mulling over

arcing kittiwakes

cormorants cruciform on high rocks

drying outstretched wings

Enoch McManus

Killiecrankie, Perth & Kinross

john e.c.

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