My mother’s last mid-autumn festival in Saigon, 1977

By Natalie Linh Bolderston

A Golden Shovel after ‘On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous’ by Ocean Vuong You light candles for every ghost of your blood, bend to say your prayers, burn joss to mask the smell of surrender. You pile plastic fruit at the shrine and queue for rations. Remember to say cảm ơn, even in the eye of […]

Morning After

By Mathilda Armiger

A Golden Shovel after‘Party Piece’ by Brian Patten   let’s   forget it           how we cut flares like night steamers          the way we can clip and unclip   each other’s bright wires        worm our currents down to earth         our […]

Brown girls’ anthem

By Fathima Zahra

A Golden Shovel after ‘Call Me by Your Name’ by André Aciman We die so many deaths before we turn twenty. We, the schoolyard Kardashians. We sew our stories, rip them out as the schoolbus pulls up at our door. We out cast our vile tongues so the aunties won’t. Scrape it so they won’t […]

Hilly City Ode

By William Snelling

A Golden Shovel after ‘Fern Hill’ by Dylan Thomas Funny how the spring rain unscrews the time sending the clouds scattered ahead that had been held fixed like memory for months, nowhere for me to look; now branches drip overhead, fat and green droplets like crystal earrings glittering and singing on tarmac like there’s no […]

to bee, or not to bee

By Georgie West

A Golden Shovel after Shakespeare the garden yawns: it has just struck two o’clock. small creatures crawl, summer-drunk and muffled by heat. in the dirt, a bee tumbles over and over itself, belly showing, legs whirling dust. i excavate, scooping up an ore made of hot earth and gravel and grass and animal, a hysterical […]

quoting baudelaire and living in the eighties

By Katie Kirkpatrick

A Golden Shovel after Heathers christ, as soon as he turned seventeen he was swallowed up by it all. chaos coated him like a sugar glaze. dressing like the search results for ‘grunge’ on pinterest is popular with teen girls. apparently. a different one every Thursday. what lost me was the way he threw out […]

Time Traveller

By Ellora Sutton

A Golden Shovel after ‘Ozymandias’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley They have built things, these wrists, my teeth and tongue, they howl my name I hear it in the downpour, the glass is rattled with it, a furious Ozymandias gale-force. I choke on the word king the wisteria forming my spinal cord isn’t of bending bowing […]

Bring

By Nadia Lines

A Golden Shovel after ‘Days’ by Philip Larkin For me, pain brings, among other things, the tissues of the priest pressed into my palm, and the silence surrounding the suggestion of seeing a doctor.

Daphne

By Ellora Sutton

I could not run so I took root, still as a housewife, stagnant. My eyelids went first. Desiccated to tracing paper to sandpaper. You, in your gleaming arrogance, you could never foresee this; that my arms would age to bark, my belly an empty whisky barrel. The feet that failed me trickling in sunlight, toes […]

One for Sorrow

By Lauren Aspery

We blame our bad days on opening umbrellas indoors, magpies and broken mirrors, walking past black cats on pavement cracks under ladders, killing spiders, spilling salt on the table next to new shoes in a size 13. Cold calls from numbers ending in 666 – throwing pennies, picking clovers, blowing candles out, wishing for something […]

A private man, public spaces

By Jack Cooper

Contains strong language A man will drown if held under by his own dead weight or a stranger’s hand, pushing him to the piss-slick tiles. There’s no safety in a closed door, but a man wouldn’t hope for more than he’s given – a body desperate for the air in another’s lungs – take his mouth, […]

Love is a Hairy Moth

By Hebe Fryer

Contains strong language. Love is a hairy moth: fickle and fleeting, Not the knight in shining armour I was promised, But a balding man who can’t stop eating, Just a turnip farmer shrouded in Wiltshire mist. Would it hurt to bring me roses rather that shallots? Or take me out to a fancy candle-lit dinner? […]

Mrs Mendeleev

By Emily Boyle

What’s the point of oxygen if we can’t share it? What’s the point of Hydrogen, if I can’t watch the sun set with you? What’s the point of ionic bonding if it’s stronger than our love?

Pearl River

By Dan Fitt-Palmer

a tiger can dissolve into mist – the river cannot abide unscathed prey. you want to span the whole thing with looming towers, yet i too slip between sounds, iron dagger at my hip. that sparkling dust that refuses your fingers like scattered rice grains in a bowl. the dull clink of your machine-struck coin; […]

Lady

By Em Power

My weak brave husband, he was always a brittle blade, Honour before reason, dry eyes open to the blaze of the sun, Each letter I opened talking of dead Scots and rebels and anyone But me. Me, empty-bellied, staring up at the night sky. Once. Twice. Thrice. At least until that final, crumpled, yellow light […]

the passing

By Georgie West

a response to ‘Whoever She Was’ by Carol Ann Duffy they see me only in dark corners. hurrying, they pass me. a hot flash of alarm traces their face. delicate, like the warm trail-wake of a finger on cheekbones. i am not golden locks. i am anger and screaming and protest, presumably, and i can […]

Ormulu at the Mad House

By Anna Thomas

Here, Forbesy Daubs and daddy Daffydd  a right bungling pair for the car boot  Dafty Daffydd waiting We’re late-ing Dai’s diabolical give him an insulin while Forbes Daubs – fat Artsy old fart – finishing up the plum job dabs in  lwyau caru by carbolic soap wrapped up. On the TellyVision I saw a collared […]

Gold

By Ben Vickers

The bird’s chest is like glimmering gold. Frogs stand still whilst the sun beams down on their shiny skin. Autumn leaves fall from the sky. Trees bowing to the beetles below. Cat’s meow at the blinding sun. Gold is expensive, gold is bright, gold is nature.

Poem for a meme

By Chanchal Kumar

have u seen that meme where the picture depicts a myosin protein dragging an endorphin to the inner part of the cortex which leads to the feeling of happiness in the human brain? just like sisyphus pushing his rock up the mountain. and i think, how apt, happiness is indeed a pursuit, something to be […]

you/me, an intellectual

By Lydia Wei

you: daaaamn gorgeous / thicc baby / yummmayyyy me, an intellectual: daaaamn / & she eats kleenex tissues & protein bars / & she worships the bronzed billboard goddesses of ventura freeway / & she cuts her nails / inserts two fingers in her mouth / confesses to the toilet bowl & prays for absolution […]

The Inattentive Lover

By Nadia Lines

The couple, side by side, do look to be, A picture of fresh love and youthful charm, One cannot question their fidelity, When one sees them strolling arm in arm. But woe betide! His hungry eyes do stray, To that young beauty just crossing their track, His greedy, whistling lips do now betray, His lust […]

Spooky Scary Skeletons

By Emily Hana

I can tell by the way my mother chews her toast that she is haunted. The faces in the fake Jackson Pollock painting in our living room are haunted. There is a dog that howls outside my room each morning at 3:06; that too is haunted. Empty spaces are haunted; train tracks in winter morning […]

it really do be like that sometimes

By Cia Mangat

I think that the earth knows it really do be like that sometimes I think I can feel the water stagnating in the shower it’s hard and it isn’t doing my hair any favours but it’s all good I think that everyone who follows me knows that it really do be like that sometimes guys […]

Ode to Pepe the Frog

By Em Power and Elizabeth Thatcher

You were tiny. Green. Insignificant. You, always sad and stoic, contemplative, hissing, a symbol for something unnamed. Every line in your face spells out an incoherent joke, a teen’s rampant laughter, your black eyes the light of a webcam. You, miserably self-aware. Feels good man. God says you weren’t meant to exist like this. You […]

xu zhimo’s willow

By Lydia Wei

on the bus ride to cambridge,         the tour guide tries to tell us about peasant rebellions, chelsea buns, plague pits:     the sky grew dusty with coughed prayers… some of the younger couples pay attention:     young professionals from beijing, i think, they collect these kinds of stories like toy trains and             action […]

Barkskin

By Jack Helme

The wood around the village edge greys in the distance like eyes do in time. The tree bark creases like crows’ feet arounds knots and branched shoulders. Craning my neck to write, the forest comes out from behind beeswax polish and I chase my classmates across the pine carpet. Looking past my pencils and papers, […]

Felling

By Jei Degenhardt

Something happened and the evening turned into a bruise. The next day the bruise grew a tree. He walked around it all morning. Whispering, then yelling. Through the garden window I saw his lips, blue, and the mist leaving them to break upon the bark. He was back inside when I came home from work. […]

Looking at Trees

By Theo Lewis

Looking at trees on the way home this evening, bent in the wind, leaning amicably like drinkers at a bar, I thought: I will stop resisting. I will lean with my friends, and let the wind agitate my hair.

I am the Tree

By Yolanda Moran

I drink Earth’s blood, Eat the light, Host the snow, Feel winds flow, Fledglings’ flight. I’ve heard the night owl’s hoots, Mushrooms balance on my roots Where flowers used to grow, They don’t know how far they go I’ve seen them all Between my leaves, In Autumn fall, In my bark sleeves. Some say I […]

parallel of a dead oak

By Natalie Perman

a tree dissevered dissevered a tree                                                roots worms                                                                          clear in green water  a deified root                                                     deified worms                                                                          a tree dissevered                                                                           translucent in green water a tree painted                                                    the reflection of hollow                                                              the landscape of woods holds its own […]