untitled #1. deviation by Declan Wiffen

untitled #1. deviation 


in-between two tall pylons 

forget all that came before

swept under the sofa—

two morning thoughts on monogamy for a provocation into 

‘rusheth rather than runneth’. 

a skate’s heel swallow curve takes me out of the world up to 

constable skies, flat alone, back into promiscuous attention. 

a wish to find someone to die with…a cure for the terrors of aliveness. 

options we can still want despite closing the book. 

this ethics makes for a nervous-talking fuck boy but 

is philosophy enough? 

ecological theory sure won’t save you &

what is the boyfriend experience other than the end of a conversation

the resumption of a subject after deviation? 

swale the risk of abandoned junk—

haven’t seen jesus lately anyway, he was asked to keep god company. 

a big long walk alongside mean-low-water without 

interruption to my interruptions. 

is this really where you’ve been with your time? 

it is all a question of which catastrophe one prefers

varieties of knowing selves, deriving life from handbooks 

& affections echoed in creeky dreams. 

                                                                         people do different things with syntax. 

not a river of meaning but a tidal channel where 

prepositions are rapid & liable to deluge. 

a drenched body expressing the relation between 

a mirror-sheen & purple thunder 

in which i listen for what was hoped for yesterday, 

opening your line of shored up defence against saxon sex. 

untitled #2. irrepressibility


we can all want different things & you can’t tell me everything. 

it would strike futile to duck after lightning & still, 

crouched by this sea wall begin singing everything good isn’t pretty. 

bulrushes & jointed waft wind movement seen

rooted irrepressibility. 

show yourself to me in reed formation, cartographer of produced desire—

whisper those who say there’s no lack might be trying too 

hard to be whole. quarter my weaknesses & 

harrier the unsaid, not for bait digging or beach fishing, 

merely ranging the ditches together for a solitary grey heron. 

watch its clap flight & felt each cold rain drop on our backs 

until we merged with air & misty friendship. 

barge all plans & wade up the inlet for a supper we catch & cook, happily ever….

no, a lick of light from up under the edge of a clouded nap. 

my disposition isn’t ready for august’s young magpies. i scream black & white 

with the oyster catchers in a gust, red bills cut jaw, 

not flying but tumbled into dryness. 

who to turn to for ending, turn into tomorrow’s shadow? 

this little hedgehog, lost? 

brent geese won’t arrive till winter. 

                                                         i don’t like any of this, 

                                                         haven’t been able to say anything. 

swim again before the last plan of action—

search for eelgrass, linger if the grazing is good & push on at dusk. 

pray to the flat open for 



to return in flock



declan wiffen is Lecturer in Contemporary Literature and Critical Theory at The University of Kent. As part of Estuary Festival 2021, he was the organiser of Cruising the Estuary, a series of nature writing workshops exploring queer ecologies. He is also the editor of Litmus: the lichen issue, a magazine exploring the intersection of science and poetry. Recent and forthcoming writing can be found in FieldNotes 003, Responses to Derek Jarman’s Blue, A Queer Anthology of Healing, and -algia magazine. his first pamphlet will be published with Invisible Hand Press later in 2022.

After the Fall of a Pear Tree Overladen with Fruit by Mark Czanik

After the Fall of a Pear Tree Overladen with Fruit 

The birds that used to gather and sing in our pear tree 

kept coming back that summer after its fall. 

I used to watch them from my window 

swooping down into the back garden, 

little stroboscopic streaks of colour 

that would stop and hover confusedly 

when they found only empty space 

in the pear tree’s place, before darting off 

in search of somewhere else 

to rest their fiery wings. 

How would that feel? I wondered. 

To come home one day and find nothing. 

No passage in which to slip off your shoes, 

no kettle waiting to be filled,

no staircase to take three at a time,   

no records waiting to be played,    

or treasure chest of comics in the secret cave 

under your bed. No bed even.

Just a sudden absence in a row of houses 

where your own once stood. 

Whose door would you knock on first?



Mark Czanik’s recent poems, stories and artwork can be found in Riptide, Ropes, Porridge, Pennine Platform, Morphrog, and 3AM. He was brought up in the sweet borderlands of Herefordshire, and now lives in Bath.

Building a City with No Heart by Emma Lee

Building a City with No Heart


He dreams of architecture: brutalist

streets designed for efficient

movement of waves of people, funnelled

through insomniac streets of narrow culture.

He needs to find a way to represent it

in a stream of fluid machine code

stripped back to green on a black screen.

But how to make it look like a city

that never sleeps? Ones and zeros

trickle like rivers but have no visual depth.

He shuffles to the kitchen, assembles 

udon noodles, wakame seaweed, bonito flakes.

Picks up his wife’s recipe book

to check an amount. The text swims,

comes into focus. He cooks, eats, sees

the book on the counter when he clears dishes.

Tired eyes turn the kanji green. It flickers.

He slips the book into his messenger bag.

Where love is frowned on, food will do.



Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs here.

Human Error by Yanita Georgieva

human error

the details here 

are not important


maybe there was 

a washing machine

on the roof 


a cracked pot 

of blue jasmine

teetering over 

the parapet 


I was there

with my big


holding up 

my clown suit


the rain 

poured down

in ladles which 

is not important

unless there was hope

for a spotless exit


I see them now

the things I should have done


locked the roof garden 

twisted and pulled out

each tooth like a tick 

yelled about women
and cockpits and pecking

for worms


I should have

said something

better but

if you are wondering

if I waited



with the wilt 

of an abandoned 

tulip I waited

and waited

to be plucked out

of the mulch


for a swamp mouth

to open and call me

a good green thing

worthy of light



Yanita Georgieva is a poet and journalist. She was born in Bulgaria, raised in Lebanon, and is currently based in London, where she is pursuing a Creative Writing MA at Royal Holloway University. She is the recipient of the 2022 Out-Spoken Prize for Page Poetry. You can find her work in Poetry Wales, bath magg, Gutter Magazine, and elsewhere. 

Six Poems by Peter Robinson

Gasometer Music

Whereas in this city,

a deserted square at lunchtime,

there might be pigeons round its fountain,

leaf-shadow mottling the stone,

there might be, on the air, a student

practising cadenzas,

chord cascades, Rachmaninoff,

and might be love-names scored in benches’

time-signatures of scratch or stain – 

here in our vicinity

a ring-road’s lifting traffic over,

not far from the Madonnina

afternoons will wash it clean

of any sound, sense, or sensation

and beyond a depths of sleep

another deep remains unfathomed …

Echoes from gasholders singing,

they’re enough to put you off its scent!

The Invidious Signs

From our side of the railway tracks

out to districts where this city

shows intent, expensive features,

avenues’ azure road-sign arrows

for Milano, Brescia, Mantova, La Spezia

would leave me in their quandaries – 

placenames promising a continuity

which couldn’t be, the distances given

with destinations withered if I even

thought of choosing them …


Later, through an August’s dogdays

on their shady sides I’d venture

out to streets and boulevards

wanting to be you, exogamous couples

who’d chosen here for your own reasons – 

would envy you the games of cards, 

pastries tasted, middle seasons,

fogs, complaints, the local irritations, 

even your sometime ill-lived years  

for our passed-elsewhere ones.

Next Slide Please

‘… and in what seems

capricious sequence.’

Roy Fisher

After a further pandemic

of news about vaccines, I take

a brisk walk round the lake

and find its paths impassable,

their margins trampled wider,

find this same Egyptian goose is

billing in the sodden grasses’

trodden remnant ice.


No, not following the science,

data theatre, only common sense,

a frightened fox, red Reynard,

darts between two privet hedges.

After a year, these streets I know

where thought settles at a wall’s foot

or in treetops whose woodpeckers

sound like far pneumatic drills.


Likewise, I slip past the traffic

light at the end of more roadworks

noticing this present tense’s

counterfactual memories

as if to elegize the day – 

a day turned into exercise

books of modelled prophecies

and no one giving way.


Snowdrops’ fresh tears wobble

under sudden gusts while

in the perishing air above,

look, there, a solitary vapour trail.

Then, next slide, please, see flakes of snow

blown across a misted window

where – like the number blizzards – 

they tumble, melting now.

Later Manifestos

Homeless Thought

A last truck parked on standing water,

surface run-off, gusted leaves

drowned in overflowing drain pools:

nothing’s only good or bad,  

think what you will, and nothing unalloyed

for thought here in its homelessness …

It follows beaten paths through woods

yearning to be somewhere, 

to be somewhere else.

Upper Redlands Road

As an old dairy with compass-point vane

and moss-encrusted roofline

recalls when downs were farmland,

now, thoughts’ local haunts,

they’re going where your feet decide

to gasometer and Chilterns

hazy ‘in these gin-clear skies’

as a weather person’s words would have it …

Feeding Bird

That white mansion, Caversham Heights,

old Cold War listening station,

it comes clear right across the valley

here from Earley Rise.

In earlier, raking sun displayed

red berried branches, twigs,

each with a droplet on its tip,

stop me, like a feeding bird

attracted to their catch-light pearls.


Likewise, brickwork’s moss-humped capstones

cut through drizzle, mist, miasma,

as what once seemed definite

(that exercise, those distances)

is pointed at routinely now,

vanishingly faraway – 


like the whole of a life intimidated.

Look, a mother coot dips down

to feed her five young balls of fluff.

You scare a fledgling woodpecker.

Up it flies through chilly air

where thought might find a home.

Buried Country

Then, daily, on these built-up pavements,

over cracked, root-buckled flags

I think to glimpse, as from a ridgeline,

the landscape’s reconfigured views,

well-hidden, buried country,

country before us and beyond

this parenthesis, still open,

its minute slice of time.

Two Cities

Grays Inn Road

Just in time the leafage alters.

Beech and maple lead the way.

After hours of grey cloud cover

air clears and long shadow,

a slanting light, the sunset

enlivens rooftiles, chimneys …


A first day of St Martin’s summer

we’re as ever in its doorway

where the possible turns to fact:

a sunny, pale blue mackerel sky

beyond the morning’s mist and debris,

us pulling from St Pancras Station

to be sieved by memory.

Rive Gauche

In this latest dispensation

– a passport stamp for souvenir – 

and after all the preparation,

I can’t lie, with your just-in-time

supply chains groaning on the day

we sense a thread of cooling breeze

as if joy always followed pain

whatever might be meant

by saying hope is violent

in sunlight down along the Seine 

aglitter and aglow.

Métro Station

Dusk walking and we chance

on one art deco station’s

commemorative plaque

in shadowed street, deserted,

bereft of any apparitions

sketched out white on black.

Down and Out

Even so, still, homeless people

settled in the doorway

of a Bon Marché department store

endure our passing on display

with strange, affectless stoicism

when just in time the darkness falls

on sleeping bags and cardboard

as like fifty years before.


Then as from pure association

remember Mohammed Sceab

passing Rue des Carmes

or Verlaine by the Rue Mouffetard

and on Rue Monge we find a way

through street-doors to the small Arena

where lovers come and children play

at football now, its charms

intact, intact despite the times,

only to find ourselves in tears

whether ravished by the song

a street musician jazzes on

or gone behind their burnt cathedral

by work still to be done


The Worse


When Faustus sacked Mephistopheles,

remember, all hell breaking loose

– pandemic on pandemonium – 

I can’t lie, with your just-in-time

supply chains groaning, I can’t lie,

no gain, not meaning to deceive

in queues at the Gare du Nord to leave

and get where his are coming home.


Dark foreground masses looming somewhere

in Mornington Crescent or Camden Town,

bright-lit distance overwhelms

with the Hammersmith and City Line’s

stage flats, theatrical chiaroscuro, 

its pointed brickwork, smutted mosses

outcropping down the tunnel rock

and formed of speculation, losses,

a year’s-end ruin creeps into their designs.


Later, more street music playing,

with all its fluent melancholy

echoing over a leaf-littered square,

the shopping centre cannot hold,

has boarded up or white-swirled windows,

some people resting here and there …

That’s how we find ourselves safe home

given the times, now, just in time.


for Paul Francis

Never too late for a happy childhood!

Especially when a west wind

ruffles waveforms into whitecaps,

we’re following old field walls,

red sandstone walls from different era,

fringes of a storm blown through.

They take us down where tidal river

opens up towards the Wirral

and in this weather, changeable,

with sunny spells between fierce showers,

we’re tracing out the fates of ships – 

the Amakura, our example,

torpedoed 1942

on its run to Demerara,

surviving in a coffee shop name

there on Booker Avenue.

No, never too late for a happy childhood!

We’re pondering the fates of young

people with their body-image

problems, self-harms, spectre-like identities …

then pile in with our own

thinking green-gold tins of syrup

that brought forth sweetness from the strong;

we’re talking etymologies – 

how amakura sounds like Japanese,

meaning ‘sweet-store’, its hold-cargoes

replenishments for Tate & Lyle

to take the bitterness off our coffees,

as Booker was the shipping line

that owned the S. S. Amakura,

even though we’ve no idea, 

no, we can’t imagine

how it got its name.

Peter Robinson is a Professor of English at the University of Reading and poetry editor for Two Rivers Press. He grew up in Liverpool and has degrees from the Universities of York and Cambridge. After spending eighteen years teaching at various universities in Kyoto and Sendai, Japan, he now lives in Reading with his wife, a native of Parma, Italy. They have two daughters. Peter has published aphorisms, fiction, short stories, and literary criticism, as well as many books of poetry and translation, for some of which he has been awarded the Cheltenham Prize, the John Florio Prize, and two Poetry Book Society Recommendations. 
His first volume of poems, Overdrawn Account, appeared from the Many Press in 1980, and since then he has produced eleven collections, with ten available in Collected Poems 1976-2016 (Shearsman Books, 2017) and the most recent in Ravishing Europa (Worple Press, 2019) [https://www.worplepress.com/ravishing-europa/]. He has also collaborated with artists on two books, Bonjour Mr Inshaw with David Inshaw (Two Rivers Press, 2020) and English Nettles and Other Poems (Two Rivers Press, 2010, and 2022) with Sally Castle. His latest volume of poetry, Retrieved Attachments, from which some of the poems published here have been taken, is forthcoming in February 2023. 
     Peter’s fiction includes a collection of short stories, Foreigners, Drunks and Babies, published by Two Rivers Press in 2013, his first novel, September in the Rain, which came out from Holland House Books in 2016, and his fictive psycho-geographical exploration of Reading, combined with state of the nation report and Crusoe obsession, The Constitutionals, which also appeared from Two Rivers Press in 2019. Alongside his own writing Peter has been a dedicated translator of poetry, especially from the Italian. His latest publication is Reports after the Fire: Selected Poems of Pietro De Marchi (Shearsman Books, 2022). He is currently completing a translation of In Rhyme and Without: The Complete Poems of Giorgio Bassani with Roberta Antognini. 
His work has been extensively reviewed, and two collections of essays on his writings have been published to date, The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson edited by Adam Piette and Katy Price (Salt Publishing, 2007) and Peter Robinson: A Portrait of his Work ed, Tom Phillips.

Christmas Eve in Paris by Mary Mulholland

When she calls I leave oysters, champagne,

and go straight there. She opens the door.

I follow her into the cold, candlelit room,

unsure about her arrangement: I have

never seen him in a suit in bed. Thinner,

longer, he looks so serious with his halo

of white hair. It’s been three days, but

I can’t… she starts, then smooths the sheet

to one side of him as she heaves with sighs

then stares as if I too should be crying.

But I, barely breathing, am thinking of things

we share, like air, that only belongs to the living;

him lying between us, no longer a part.



Mary Mulholland’s poems have been published in Ambit, Arc, Fenland Poetry Journal, Finished Creatures, High Window, London Grip, Perverse, Poetry News, Snakeskin, Under the Radar , and in several anthologies. Twice-winner in Poetry Society Members’ Competitions, she’s also been commended or shortlisted in competitions including Aesthetica, Artlyst, Aryamati, Bridport, Trim, Wasafiri, Winchester and the Live Canon Pamphlet prize. Mary holds a Newcastle/ Poetry School MA in Writing Poetry and co-edits The Alchemy Spoon.

Embankment Gardens by Mary Cunningham

Twilight paints this strip of The Smoke

to slumber. Slow, separate, in the gathering light,

Earth closing the space between them,

her last word still looping, she peels a kiss from lolling lips

whilst a dredger ship tows past to the Dogs.

She gulls and swoops her prey and the crawling

kerbs of engines queue, spitting their back-tracks

through ward-like streets while the full-fat stop

in the sky steals a glance to the Gherkin’s glimmer

and the lusty Dome who echo renaissance cries.

His shirt side-pulled, her rosy palm creams

whipped egg-white and eggplant flesh, a green belt

silent unhinged release to blow from the city’s cheeks.

Blind steel screeches at the station of the Cross

and the myopic Eye spins its empty round

losing by inches the lovers’ thrall and thrash.

A woman passes, averting her senses,

pulling her dog from the scent

fanning from her offered-high posy

while she hoods, in her mouth, his silks and spices

and shields him from beastly intent.

He loves me, he loves me not –

Tubes beat and drum beneath the verge.

Violet neons surge and bend from the stars away;

street-lights in disharmonic disarray.

The garden swells for its disciple,

the smell of earth-worm rings in her nose

pulling her tethered head to his on the turf,

their mouths in rounds, faint beat of hearts,

flesh mole-mounds gasp and suckle.

Warm moans, venerate decay,

she clasps the night to the day.



Mary Cunningham, recently selected for the 2021-22 cohort of the Writing West Midlands Room 204 Development Programme, is an emerging writer from Shropshire. She writes poems for the page and the stage and performs regularly at Shrewsbury Poetry and Manchester Speakeasy.

The Waters of the Zambezi by Graham Clifford

In the basement we found his tools for separating Siamese Twins, a pew, an excellent drawing of a rabbit and about fifty assorted lockable cases, all different sizes. All locked.

We had spent more than a decade upstairs thinking we were running everything, when all along he was down here, doing important stuff.

Where do you think he trained? asked Jakes’ wife. She was usually the last to speak.

I had not thought he’d been trained. Perhaps I could be trained to do this, I thought at that moment. After all, my grandfather had been a midwife to a Hereford Cow and controlled the flow of the Zambezi over the Victoria Falls. This sort of leadership potential was in my blood. My mother had raised an army of petunias every spring and never shed a tear when they were mown down or rotted.

It is just how it is.



Graham Clifford is an award winning poet. He was born in Portsmouth, grew up in Wiltshire and lives in London with his partner and two daughters. His pamphlet, Welcome Back to the Country, and full collection, The Hitting Game are published by Seren. His pamphlet collection, Computer Generated Crash Test Dummies is published by The Black Light Engine Room, and his collection, Well, is published by Against The Grain. He has a MA in creative writing from UEA and is a Head teacher. Graham Clifford’s poetry has been described as having ‘coolly brutal frankness.’ His fifth collection, In Charge of the Gun, is published by the Black Light Engine Room. www.grahamcliffordpoet.com

6am by Nicholas McGaughey

She studied the braille

of his back in the

grey before morning,


before the light leached

through the blind, before

neighbours crouched after dogs,


and a shower sluiced

them into the veiled crowds

of the Metro like a drain.



My people by Mark Chamberlain

My people are people who still smoke cigarettes in bed, first thing in the morning, as soon as they wake up. They lie there, smoking, and think critically about the people they met the night before. Some people buy cigarettes for a night out then throw away the unfinished pack in the morning. These people are not my people. Being able to snog a man you’ve just met through cigarette smoke after six pints of lager is the only good thing to have come out of the twentieth century. Sharing a cigarette with a naked man in your kitchen means you’ve made it. My people are people who still nurse their hangovers with cigarettes and coffee. Some people don’t even smoke after sex anymore. I no longer deign to speak to these people and I’ve unfollowed them on Twitter. Smoking while drinking wine is OK, but it’s best done by people who smoke ultra-slim menthols and wear big sunglasses. These people are not my people but I respect their integrity. Smoking cannabis is not smoking, nor is smoking roll-ups, which is what people who are close to nature do. I have disowned all my rural relatives. My people are people who wake up mid-morning and smoke proper cigarettes in bed with naked men and hangovers.

Mark Chamberlain’s poetry has appeared in titles including Magma, The Hudson Review, Finished Creatures, The Financial Times, and FAKE (Corrupted Poetry). He has poems forthcoming in The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 (Black Spring Press Group) and Slovakia in Poems (Global Slovakia). His poem ‘england poz’ was commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2020. He has written about ethics, appropriation, and Robert Lowell for The Times Literary Supplement. In October 2021, Mark is starting a PhD at Durham University looking at dialect and code-switching in contemporary British poetry.