Three Poems

Ogu Nnachi

Photo of various fruits at a market. In the center are baskets of kumquats and guava which are marked with signs noting the price. In the foreground are passionfruits. A cut papaya is in the bottom left. In the top right are bunches of mint and bananas in plastic wrap. Behind the basket of guavas are mangoes and a red fruit (out of focus) to the right. Another bunch of bananas in plastic sits atop these fruits. In the top right are yellow fruits (out of focus).

Photo Credit: Aurelien Guichard/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Soiled nappy smell woman

you smile
as you peer at hot Dominican bananas
stuck in plastic
£1.95 a bunch

As you pass by
I think of golden slush puppy faeces
wrapped around a baby’s bottom

Your irises
calm open coconut-coloured
point to the carrots
on that five-foot-six inches high shelf
I have to stretch to reach them

Your face splits open
and your stomach heaving perfume
then settles below my nose

I long for damp cotton wool fingers
to gently wipe your skin
drink your stool smell

I imagine you outside
soaked in a shower of baby oil
laughing as the liquid playfully
drenches your skin

As I pass by
your rankness
touches me gently
stand by the Valencia oranges
holding your twisted fingers.


Dark and Lovely

Now it is time
The soft leather armchair has been covered with an old cloth
The scissors and plastic gloves are on the table
The dye, ‘dark and lovely’ from Brixton
sits on a piece of newspaper
Her fingers hurt from unscrewing the lid

When he arrives
wrapper wrapped around his bare neck and chest
she signals for him to sit down
pours dye into her hands
shaking it slightly into her palms
as if measuring salt before sprinkling it into egusi soup

As she massages his curls
they become a green field of closely-cut grass
then damp moss which she firmly presses
Her thoughts take a dusty walk to Afikpo market
to buy yams and dried fish
She sees her Father and strokes his blind eyes

When she is done
she wraps her pink plastic shower cap from Boots
around Dad’s hair
And they wait
watching Jerry Springer

Mum says, “Dear, sit up, it’s time to go to the bathroom.”
She walks behind him
From his frilly cap
black dye is tickling the backs of his ears and sliding down his neck
like a stream of silent tears
She pushes the cloth up towards his hair to catch the black liquid

He bends his head towards the bath and his
chin gently kisses the rim as he drops his face into empty space
Mum reaches for the cold-water tap
Her swollen thumb aches and feels heavy
The water sounds loud and makes a shape like thick rope
as it drops down the plughole
Dad lets her push his head towards the water
This evening he will point to his empty cup for her to put away

The water slaps his head and the dye melts like butter crying in a frying pan
As it hits the bath the black soup becomes a shower of petals
Dad’s shoulders shudder as his coils greet the cold
but he stays bowed under the tap
lets her
rub the black liquid out of his black curls

“Give me the towel”
She passes the towel to him which is worn and grey
He rubs his hair and the cotton threads suck the black juice
“Nnena, what are we eating?”

I see Mum staring at Dad for a second
watch her
watch a spoonful of black liquid
slide from a batch of curls
and fall slower than a yawn
onto the pale carpet.


I Miss You

Unlike the metal in my right knee
Which will be separated from me
when I am melted bone then ash
I keep your ashes
in my shoulder blade.

Hands like steel detectors
will sift through my dust
trap clumps of cobalt
which will be cleaned and recycled

The iron bolts and screws
that kept me sealed
will be flung
into plastic bins

My pain
escapes in wafts of
unalluring perfume
as I endure another night of lonely sleep

we talk in whispers
You listen
Deep inside my body

We make thready silky plans
like the spider web that hangs outside
the kitchen window
held in place and guarded
by honeysuckle stems.

All I need to do is lift
the window
reach for the web
and drag its fibre of tears
in between my fingertips

Melt it
into a snot trail.
Brown spotty spider
Like our desires

When it is my turn for my body
to face the fire
Who will take my ashes
And bore them into their shoulder blade?


Ogu is a mother of 3 children. She lives in London, England and is a full-time special needs teacher. She has written for a London Afro-Caribbean newspaper called The Voice, worked with female artists as part of a collective called Black Women in View and her short story was exhibited as part of the exhibition at Brixton Art Gallery. She was part of the London Performance Poetry scene in the ’80s and ’90s, an experience which helped her confidence to continue to write and perform her poetry. She has had a prose poem published in Mechanics’ Institute Review. She enjoys writing and finds it a meditative and calming experience. She attends work-shops and writing groups and appreciates the encouragement and support from other writers.

Two Poems

Vyarka Kozareva

Photo of a wicker basket of purple grapes. A few unripe (green) grapes are visible in the center. Light hits the basket from the bottom right and the background is in shadow. In the bottom right is a baguette beside the basket. A salt/pepper shaker is out of focus in the foreground.

Photo Credit: David Geitgey Sierralupe/Flickr (CC-by)

Reminiscent of Husserl

Every morning I read a note
The same
Written in red ink
Left on my kitchen table.
My eyes keep skepticism.
I am afraid
I miss the essence of the writing
In the insipidness.
I must be scrappy pretending your pre-existence.
The grapes in the epergne
Their juice could turn your fingertips sugary.



At 3 a.m. I don’t sleep.
My left hand fingers, clung together,
Lock their unspoken loss.
Time sleeps on your armchair blanket.
In its ribbed chest
The caffeine warmth of your voice
Is folding dreams.
The middle piece of night plays chemin de fer.
My pockets keep balls of old stained paper,
Letters not readable,
On which rests absolution for every broken rule
If written indecipherable.
A single bird outside
Vigilant to fly off
With my split mind under its pinion.
I wonder when, if possible at all,
The grief will make my lunacy ennobled.


Vyarka Kozareva resides in Bulgaria. Her work has appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Ariel Chart, Poetry Pacific, Basset Hound Press, Bosphorus Review of Books, Mad Swirl, Ann Arbor Review, Fevers Of The Mind, Juste Milieu Lit, Trouvaille Review, Aberration Labyrinth, Triggerfish Critical Review, Sampsonia Way Magazine, and Synchronized Chaos Magazine.


James Croal Jackson

Monochrome photo of an empty coffee shop, looking toward the windows and door. Tall picture windows line one wall with double glass doors on the adjacent wall. Above both the windows and doors are transom windows. An EXIT sign is above the doors. A tall bar-height table with three chairs faces the window closest to the doors. Beside it is a two-person table with one chair visible. In the center of the photo are two two-person tables, positioned at an angle. In the foreground, a chair back is visible. The table tops and floor are wood. Outside the windows a stop sign and light pole are visible. The building across the street is shrouded in scaffolding.

Photo Credit: Roey Ahram/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

I watch the line of people accumulate,
a metaphor in front of me. Because nothing

can exist without some deeper meaning.
How people walk in and out of my life

in this coffee shop and I obsess on
the butterfly effect. I occupy a table,

but there are five open tables. I drink
from a mug, but there are many mugs.

How can everything mean anything
in such insignificance? The chatter

grows louder. I need follow-up reports
for every single person who steps

inside while I am here, especially
those who look and leave quickly.

I need to know how my insignificance
becomes significant—a small gust,



James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA.

Four Poems

Jenny Hockey

Monochrome photo of a kitchen window. One side of the window is open. Outside the window, fog envelopes leafless trees and a low-rise building off to the left. Below the window is a radiator with a dish towel hanging from it. The right side of the image is in shadow; on the left are cabinets and a shelf with pots hanging beneath. Below is a sink. The wall between the cabinets and sink is tiled with subway tiles. On the sideboard next to the sink are various kitchen things: a cutting board, a container of utensils, some cups/mugs, dish soap.

Photo Credit: Mayastar Lavi/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Change of Heart

It’s 7 a.m., says Radio 4
but I spare the kitchen light,

stretch out darkness
like tights matted in the wash.

Our kettle boils, gulps your words
but you just gruff, call me deaf

and let the cold get its foot in the door
as you leave—maybe for good.

It’s 8 a.m., says Radio 4
and I’m stuffing my briefcase with work.

Here you are easing our grandson’s pram
gently, tenderly back up the steps—

his Buddha smile derails me
as sun tumbles in through the door,

as you slide the car keys out of my hand,
put the kettle back on.


Shows You the Colours

The window in your back door
has grey lined up for today,

has you fumbling for keys
on your grey larder shelf
then stepping outside, what else,
for isn’t it always like this,

the valley’s gash of a river,
the everyday practice of sad—

or maybe you grab an orange coat
to climb up high through the park,
to stand and gaze into pink
flooding through clouds.

Pale yellow moonlight
sleeps on my 6 a.m. rug,
dirty old stop-out.

Remember the lakeside chalet
we borrowed the summer we met,
marigolds, orange like sunbursts,
ravenous geese at 6 a.m.,
the lilac sky as we almost held hands.

Wolf, Storm and Strawberry moons,
Milk, then Blood—or Blue,
a moon that makes her quiet way,
into a month where two full moons
have flowered, a full-term child
behind the belly’s stretch.

Run towards Forge Dam
into a tunnel of rust, drab,
brown—summer lost

till a startle of feathers, blue
and grey, shows you gold, orange,
red—lets autumn begin.

Ruby cyclamen
bloom on our garden table
after forty years.



relishes rain, embraces the sadness
of putting summer aside, folding away
the softness of cotton frocks.

September hangs around,
drenching a cyclist who scoffed
at a mac, making us sweat
in vests we put on too soon

or nudging a woman to raise
difficult Christmas plans
while lunching à deux by a lake
on Chablis and sole meuniere.

September slides its palm
from August’s humid grip,
welcomes the tug of October.


Thursday morning

and here comes my bed,
ambling across the page.

This time I’m stuck in the dark
with a Timex Light-Up Watch

that won’t, opening the curtains
to more darkness still

that pours in across the carpet
along with a wet sighing of tyres.

Has it been raining all night
or only just begun?


Jenny Hockey lives in Sheffield, UK. She belongs to Hexameter, The Poetry Room and Living Line, with poems in magazines such as The North, Magma, The Frogmore Papers and Orbis. She retired from Sheffield University as Emeritus Professor of Sociology to write and read more poetry and now reviews for Orbis magazine. In 2013 received a New Poets Award from New Writing North and Oversteps Books published her debut collection Going to Bed with the Moon in 2019. Twitter: @JHockey20

Two Poems

Marchell Dyon

Photo of a moonrise over lake. The moon is slightly to the right of center. The sky is scattered with stars. The blue of the sky deepens and the stars become more visible farther away from the moonglow. Moon and star light reflects off the lake's dark surface. The lake is surrounded by low, foliage-covered hills that are mostly in shadow. Behind them, in the distance, are taller craggy mountains.

Photo Credit: Patrick Vierthaler/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Mirror, Mirror

By the pond near the fairytale where she lived
She fell in love with her reflection

Like the flower that considers the water
Her reflection a rippling mirror

She agreed with her reflection
That she was pretty, more than average

From behind a film of mist the moon appeared
Its cheeks blushed with the color of Mars

Like the fabled queen, she asked her reflection
Who was most beautiful, she or the moon?

Her reflection replied: you of course.
She stares again at both reflections as they rippled

Shimmering side by side on the water
She did not care that her reflection lied.


The Goddess speaks for herself

I am mother to womankind
I am full of purpose
Of tears born

I have abandon the house of my father
Faraway from the mansions of angels
Into the night sky
I am that beacon of light

My complexion is the color of milk
Before the world forever I shine
And at a distance I stand

Mankind has learned to walk my craters
Still to mankind I remain a mystery

The goddess of emotions
Watch as I wax and wane the night away

I am company for those lonely
Those who must finish their lives in solitude
For I too must travel this world alone


Marchell Dyon is a poetry enthusiast. She enjoys reading poetry wherever she can find it. Once she was nominated for the best of the net prize for her poem. She continues to write in Chicago IL. She can also be founded on Twitter @DyonMarchell

Two Poems

Darren C. Demaree

Monochrome photo of a worn leather armchair. There are wrinkles on the backrest and the seat cushion is lumpy and askew. The leather is worn down on the armrests. Behind the chair is a window and unfinished wood-frame (at the top) and brick (at the bottom) walls. The floor is unfinished wood planks. To the left of the chair, against the wall, is a toilet plunger.

Photo Credit: Will Nathan/Flickr (CC-by-nd)

On My 41st Birthday

I spent all day
bleeding from my right heel.

My mouth
was in the garden.
My something dark

wrapped around my torso
like a bandage meant to hold
the vital pieces

of my life firm,
like they could dervish away
from me at any moment,

like gone meant buried
like I was swept up
in the beginning,

so I only had mourning
the ending left.
Let these groans

be a revival!
My body still processes
joy, slowly.

I don’t sleep.
I cut my heel
while sweeping

the kitchen too quickly.
The children know
my blood is an invitation

to chase
& to be chased.
It’s all there

to be taken from me.
The world isn’t waiting.
I’m stripped. I’m living.


that damn blue leather chair

the mass is
on his spinal cord
& i am waiting
for the wood
on those
fucking armrests
to melt
like an iceberg
for the ornament
& beauty
to dissolve
into that torn
& treated flesh, died blue
before barley slumped into the ammonia of his own piss
& the vet could only offer two shots
& i could hold
his weight
as it became weight only
& that nightwork
of a chair watched me
crumple back
to the mornings
when i was too sick
with alcohol
to make it up the stairs
& barley came
for me
to follow him
on all fours
& i did every morning
until i found my legs again
& he smiled,
smiled at me
because i wasn’t dead
& now,
as i try to figure out
why i tore some leather
off that chair
with my teeth
i think about all the stairs still in front of me right now
& i get back on all fours again


Darren C. Demaree is the author of eighteen poetry collections, most recently the luxury (Glass Lyre, January 2023). He is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louise Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Best of the Net Anthology and the Managing Editor of Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Twitter: @d_c_demaree

Two Poems

Beaver’s Pick
Judith Taylor

A diptych of two black-and-white images. The top photograph: a woman with long, slightly messy hair leaning against a white wall. She's wearing jeans and a T-shirt and has a bandana wrapped around her wrist. Her legs are bent with knees up in the foreground. The bottom photograph: a woman lying on her back on a made bed on a comforter with a striped pattern. Her left arm is raised, elbow up, with her hand placed over her right eye. Her face is slightly turned toward the camera and her left eye is closed. She's wearing a plaid shirt. The rest of her body is out of frame.

Photo Credit: ashley.adcox/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)


The body adapts to dearth.
Starve it of food and it will struggle on
consuming itself, as long as self remains to it.
Starve it of sleep, and it tries
—good body—to please you

adapts to papery eyelids, sugar cravings;
that feeling of running hot, as if your skull
has become a light source and you can’t switch off;
that tendency to weep.
It only needs a little training

—staying up late, rewriting lists
from all you haven’t achieved today
into what you’ll achieve tomorrow;
or scrolling down your phone screen
for a change of news—

and the body will take what’s given it
for the new normal: wake you
after two or three hours, as if
it’s had enough; and never allow itself
to dive down into the deep waves

between your frittering dreams, as if it’s fearful
it might never regain the surface.
You can teach yourself to be
terrifyingly, constantly alert this way.
People do. Not just in wars:

there’s a kind of politician who boasts
in their memoirs, of their appetite
for the tough task; of their iron will.
How they trained themselves to exist on
two or three hours of sleep. And nobody

cuts in to say the obvious:
that living like that will make you sick
in the end, will make you
borderline mad. Like us, in bodies we force
to stay awake beyond endurance

afraid of what’s being done, that we’ll have
to surface to. Another day
to scroll down through, our eyes dry
and painful. Another list. A bad dream
we are too lit up to wake from.



In the dream, he says get out of here
and don’t come back. I think it’s a joke:
he likes to do the stern Victorian patriarch.

It’s an act, he says
—confronting us with our own bourgeois morality
for our own good, since we’re too weak in the head
to be led on rational lines.

I play along
but I think about that business with the earrings
and that he’s a hypocrite too. Oh
that teenage word!
—but who can you use it on if not your father?

In the background,
in the dream, my mother frowns. She knows this game
is going to make me late in leaving
and she’s seen too much, all these years,
to find it funny now.

It’s only once I’m awake I realise
that I called her up about as grey as she is now,
and as cynical. My father, though
I must have dreamed at least a decade younger.

Still arguing, for the sake of it, still maintaining
black was white, too, if he thought it likely
someone would answer back
and give him a chance to overbear them. Not

in the slightest doubt of himself.
Not hesitant
yet. Not fragile.


Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire, in eastern central Scotland, and now lives and works in Aberdeen, where she is one of the organisers of the monthly “Poetry at Books and Beans” events. Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, was published in 2017 by Red Squirrel Press, and she is one of the Editors of Poetry Scotland magazine. Email: j.taylor.09[at]

Mind Fullness

Broker’s Pick
Ann Gibson

Several upside-down bisque doll heads. The tops of the heads are open/hollow. The head in the middle foreground has blue glass eyes. The two on either side have empty eye holes. The heads have painted lips, cheeks, eyebrows. Some have closed lips and others have open mouths. A cloth doll body is in the background.

Photo Credit: Florian Lehmuth/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Present in the moment, listening,
attentive to everything that’s said.
Tell me and I’ll remember, input sticks;
who’s doing what, whether I should show.

Minutiae weigh heavy in the head;
brain brims with details, circuits clog.
Keeping track takes its tangled toll,
no space left for flippancy or fun.

You chat, chew the fat with friends,
can’t recall anything you hear;
pay no heed to scuppered lucky chances,
meetings missed, appointments double-booked,
plans thwarted by your absent mind—
I envy you your Teflon, sieve-based brain.


Ann Gibson spent her childhood in Dublin and now lives in North Yorkshire, UK. She has published poetry in Acumen, Prole, Obsessed with Pipework, Dream Catcher, Orbis, The Poets’ Republic, and various anthologies. Her poetry has also appeared online in The High Window, Algebra of Owls, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Ofi Press Magazine and The Ekphrasis Review. Email: annjmgibson[at]


Sharon Whitehill

A woman at a drive-through window. She's wearing a headset, glasses, a denim shirt, and a green apron with the Starbucks logo. She's smiling brightly. On the ledge outside the window are some very large white flowers in a plastic to-go cup. Trees and blue sky are reflected on the window glass.

Photo Credit: Wonderlane/Flickr (CC-by)

One smile begets another; one kind gesture invites another. —Kathleen Parker

Everybody in Starbucks looks happy:
the freckled barista taking my order,
the line of workers pulling espresso
and steaming the milk,
even the handful who service the drive-through.
A vortex of forest-green aprons:
liquid chlorophyll swirled in water,
everyone pleased to be part of the dance.

I remark on the ambient mood
to the woman calling finished orders.
“I have a good team,” she agrees,
smartly snapping the lid on my cup.

Sipping the tall cappuccino,
I think of my sister’s account
of the frazzled woman at Walmart
who mistakenly smacked her cart
on the bench where my sister sat:
a startling BANG of metal on metal.

A quick reassurance—
“I’m not hurt, it’s okay”—
kindled relief in the woman’s eyes
before a stern husband hustled her off.

Far-reaching how governed we are
by the humors of strangers.
How simple compassion can solace.
How rancor can taint the whole day.


Sharon Whitehill is a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte, Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, Sharon’s publications include two scholarly biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems. Email: bambisharon[at]

He Sleeps Next Door

Diane Webster

Monochromatic photo of a metal folding chair with five wood slats for the seat and three wood slats for the backrest. The chair is in the foreground next to a shingled wall. Two windows with closed horizontal blinds inside are to the top left. All of the color in the photo is muted with the exception of an empty large green plant pot under one window. Dappled sunlight falls from the left and the shadow of a chain link fence can be seen on the concrete ground.

Photo Credit: K Hardy/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

He sleeps 30 feet away
in the house next door,
but he sits on a folding chair
outside his room watching
TV in the living room
through propped open door
of his parents’ house.

He smokes cigarettes,
listens to running water
of koi pond crowded
into his area like a hot tub
for people with limited space.

I hear his one-sided cell phone
conversations with friends
at 2:00 a.m. after the bars close;
I hear him cough when he can’t sleep
and cigarette smoke invades his lungs;
I hear him slam the wooden gate
to his graveled domain when darkness
explodes within him as much
as it descends through night.

I want to whisper through my wall,
“It’s all right.  Morning’s coming.”
I wonder if he hears.


Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write. Diane enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems. Her work has appeared in El Portal, North Dakota Quarterly, Eunoia Review and other literary magazines. Email: diaweb[at]