poems and stories 

   scroll down to read poems and stories in our

Summer  Strand

 growing weekly from June 2019


meet the poets and writers

Jeff Schiff

Sarah Doyle

Stephen Bone

L. Kiew

Allen Ashley

Finola Scott


Mandy Macdonald

Elaine Baker


Alun Robert

Mangal Patel

Gerard Sarnat

Steve Carr


John Davies

Jane Lovell

Sue Burge


Max Dunbar




Jeanine Pfeiffer






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Our first poem for summer is by Jeff Schiff







Jeff Schiff is the author of That hum to go by (Mammoth Books, 2012), Mixed DictionBurro Heart, The Rats of Patzcuaro, The Homily of Infinitude, and Anywhere in this Country. His work has appeared internationally in more than eighty periodicals, including The Alembic, Grand Street, The Ohio Review, Poet & Critic, The Louisville Review, Tendril, Pembroke Magazine, Carolina Review, Chicago Review, Hawaii Review, Southern Humanities Review, River City, Indiana Review, Willow Springs,and The Southwest Review. He has been a professor in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago since 1987.

Jeff Schiff – The Jungle Rises




The Jungle Rises




There where the croaking

        rises from the inchoate

                and vestigial


There in the palpable horizon

        in globule & rivulet

                in the hemorrhagic gush



        beyond absorption

                There in the moldy coalescence


and vaporous ooze

        in the nameless viscosities

                and horrific bobbings


There in the leaping


                yellow toadiness


and billion undiscovered emetics

        noteworthy toxins

                tongued forth


and spittled to the heart

        There where all are forced

                to dwell in their hirsute


creature bags


                where none can vanquish


their squirmings

        their greenest genesis



the jungle rises

        through cress

                through spiky palmetto


through everything we cannot hold at bay



Jeff Schiff


I was paddling by Jeff Schiff

Notes from the Black Walnut Kingdom by Jeff Schiff






Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and has been published widely in magazines, journals and anthologies. She won first prize in the WoLF Poetry Competition and Holland Park Press’s Brexit in Poetry 2019; was a runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2019; and was highly commended in the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry and in the Best Single Poem category of the Forward Prizes 2018. She is (with Allen Ashley) co-editor of Humanagerie, an anthology of animal-inspired poetry and fiction published by Eibonvale Press in 2018. Sarah is currently researching a PhD in the poetics of meteorology at Birmingham City University.


Sarah Doyle – City Gull



City Gull






has no taste for fish, unless it’s battered, fried,

vinegar-drenched – and spilling, half-eaten,

from an overfull dustbin. He’s never caught


a herring in his life. He settles on streetlamps

as if they were, for all the world, crows’ nests,

and has no notion of the winds that brought


his ancestors here, generations ago. City Gull

was born to the smoke, an urban hatchling,

streetwise and ready-mapped, no need to be taught


the wheres and hows of the complex crisscross

that spreads beneath him. He is all Cockney

birth-right, rough and ready squawks wrought


from a hawker’s gullet. He is king of the tip,

lord of landfill, dines royally on detritus and

shits where he pleases, wasting no thought


on the paintwork of cars. City Gull wonders,

sometimes, at his webbed feet, the splashy clatter

on allotment shed roofs during his clumsy halt.


He does not understand why, when his A-to-Z

synapses know only this city, he wakes from

strange dreams where the air tastes of salt.




Sarah Doyle



Corn Dolly by Sarah Doyle

Wintering by Sarah Doyle








Stephen Bone’s first collection, In the Cinema, was published by Playdead Press in 2014, followed by a pamphlet, Plainsong (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2018).


Stephen Bone – Ode to a Giant Waterlily



Ode to a Giant Waterlily





the moon, you flower

bridal white.

Gigantic Amazonian

enticing scarabs

to enter

the warm perfumery

of your heart,

offer a nectar banquet

in return for pollen

smothered backs.

A petalled jailor,

your guzzling suitors

caged, until next evening

as a magenta dandy

you unlock the soft gates,

then sink yourself

on your second day

to the shadowed depths.


from primordial pools,

your stork leg stalks

and undersides barbed

fiercely as an iron maiden.

Your floating pads,

stepping stones

for Lily Trotters, sunbeds

for caimans. Vast green

salvers on which to serve

a grinning child.


Stephen Bone


Sundews by Stephen Bone






A Chinese-Malaysian living in London, L. Kiew earns her living as an accountant. She holds an MSc in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Edinburgh University. Her debut pamphlet The Unquiet came out with Offord Road Books in February 2019.

L. Kiew – Breath Unspools



Breath Unspools


I unzip the door of lianas, step

through, casting off the city;

rain threads tarmac.

Shrive-light braids the canopy and

here seedlings weave welcome.


Green mantles the dusk pool,

is a sprung floor for jiving

mosquitos and water beetles.

Cicadas syncopate,

come the dark.


The moon sets moth traps

for new velvets,

beating devoré

and the hushed weft

of a deathhead’s wings.



L. Kiew








Allen Ashley is co-editor with Sarah Doyle of the anthology Humanagerie (Eibonvale Press, UK, 2018). He has work due soon in publications from Black Hare Press, NewCon Press and the British Fantasy Society. He has previously appeared twice on the Words for the Wild website. His next book will be as editor of The Once and Future Moon (Eibonvale Press) – due late 2019.

Allen Ashley – The Teatime Tarzan




Blithely oblivious, as a child, to the dodgy

cultural politics of the source material

with the white man as noble savage

and secret peer of the realm, I

simply watched “Tarzan” for adventure.


And I’m the kid in the grey flannel

school shorts and white aertex vest

aping that 5 note ululation

and banging my scrawny chest –

but not too hard, for fear of cavities

and quicksand.

There’s always quicksand.


No hanging liana vines in Finchley

with which to swing my way through

the suburban jungle, just a few horse

chestnut trees on the common,

their bases prone to dog mess. But

at least they’re in colour;

Tarzan’s jungle was always black and white

and not just because of the monochrome TV.


Now I think: How is he so toned

and are those Y-fronts beneath the loincloth?

And why does he never show dirt or sweat

from the exertion of beating the bad guy?

Even back then, I found it annoying

that he called his Chimpanzee “Cheta”.

I had one called “Jacko”. A toy.


All adventures ended by

Mother’s ululation:

“Come in now, it’s time

for tea. And your programme’s on.”


Leave riding the lions and trapping the trappers

to another day. Wipe your feet

on the doormat. Or maybe step over it

with exaggerated care. It might be

quicksand. There’s always




Allen Ashley


Greetings from the British Countryside by Allen Ashley

Wildflo Wers by Allen Ashley






Elaine Baker mentors young writers in her role as Patron of Writing in local schools. She runs a poetry evening class and has taught at The Poetry School, London. Elaine is currently Poet in Residence at the Vale & Downland Museum, Wantage, Oxfordshire. She enjoys performing her poetry and has collaborated with musicians the Oxford Improvisers. Her poetry has been widely published including in Proletarian Poetry, Envoi, Mslexia, Brittle Star and The North. She has an MA in Writing Poetry.

Twitter: @kitespotter


Elaine Baker – The Help


I am the Help. You need me

so I’m squeezing through

this narrow gap. See

how I compress, who knew


my head could shrink

like this! And it throb

throbs so fat I think

it can’t possibly fit


through that gap

but it does, and I know

this because as I collapse

I see the rest of me


go past: deflated dummy.

And when I hear me speak

I’m a bad juggler. Un-

funny. I think that I might


be some kind of

girl with a tail and a pin

in her hand, blind,

reaching for the flat animal


while everyone looks on.

Stretching out I feel around,

guess this is the wrong

side of the gap so I


start to use my eyes

but then I hear: Help

and I’m turning inside

out as you push me


back my hair stuffing

into my torso

my nails locking

into my palms.



Elaine Baker







Finola Scott is widely published including in Gutter, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Ofi Press and The Fenland Reed. Recently she won the Blue Nib Chapbook competitions and was runner up in Coast to Coast’s pamphlet competition. Her pamphlet is forthcoming from Red Squirrel this winter. Her poetry can be found on fb at Finola Scott Poems.

Finola Scott – The girl who can talk to birds


The girl who can talk to birds 





strides into the forest. Her unicorn bag

packed with toy bread, sea shells,

magnifying glass, she’s prepared.

In dapple-brightness she stops and

whistles. Her special whistle. The one

the birds know. The one she taught them.

A hornbill trumpets reply. She smiles.

Baby-boned arms outstretched, she twirls

and calls. Flap your wings birdies then up,

up she flutters all spangles and pink tutu.

Perched cloud high she canopy-dances,

in flurries of macaws and toucans.



Finola Scott


A version was previously published in Play Anthology, Paper dart Press 2018.








Alun Robert was born in Scotland of Irish ancestry. He is a prolific creator of lyrical verse. Of late, he has achieved success in poetry competitions and featured in international literary magazines, anthologies and on the web.

Alun Robert – No Return To Varoşa 




No Return To Varoşa






Varoşa : once glamorous holiday resort now at the eastern extremity

          of the Cyprus Forbidden Zone guarded by the United Nations


Yasak Bölge Girilmez : Forbidden Zone created after the

          1974 division of Cyprus into Turkish & Greek sectors


Behind rusting barbed wire

graffitied corrugated iron

with Yasak Bölge Girilmez

signs of blood scarlet

read by diasporics longing

hoping, dreaming

Their Wait

while just out of sight

armed guards goosestep

up from the twinkling Med

with kilometers of empty beaches

engaging the prom


to The Jungle


concrete, imposing

multiple floors high crumbling

overgrown with verdant asps

strewn with sand grains massed

populated by stray mongrels

chasing feral Van cats

en pursuit of vermin

the rattus rattus of death

but devoid of turista

in kafe, bistro, ôtel

now as dark through the day

as from crepuscular to dawn

where Bardot, Taylor, Welch

Their Set

once smouldered with chic

blinded by faux-light, while

a sylvia melanothorax warbles

as ripe effluent stinks

almost half a century gone

yet not a step closer.



Alun Robert


After Roger Deakin by Alun Robert