Poem, Poetry

Clint Wastling

Hydrogen Bonds

If you write in water
hydrogen bonds are disturbed,
ripples shy away from your intention.
These intermolecular forces form, break,
reform, diverting molecules.

Such electrostatic forces cause cohesion—
forming spheres of water dripping into the
bowl of fontana della Barcaccia.
Some molecules are those you heard
as you lay in bed.

Water is endlessly recycled,
Earth history preserved in every drop.
Today flowing over my fingers
specular under Roman sun
plinking in memory of that leaking boat.

Water from your body
could have become part of this fountain
below 26 Piazza di Spagna.
Here you worried your poetry might fade,
evaporate like water in unrelenting heat.

Clint Wastling’s  poetry has been published in  192 Magazine, Orbis, Spelt and Consilience amongst other literary journals. Clint has a collection of poetry called Layers published by Maytree Press. His novel, The Geology of Desire, is a thriller set around Whitby in the 1980’s and Hull during World War II. A second novel, Tyrants Rex is a fantasy, also published by Stairwell Books. Clint performs at literature festivals and gives workshops on poetry and geology.

Poem, Poetry

Ian Parks


I sat beside her for an hour or more –
there in the recess of the empty church.
Outside it was almost winter

and the branches of a stricken tree
tapped and scraped against the coloured glass.
Six centuries she’d laid there, carved from stone,

her eyes fixed on the rafters and her coif
draped snugly all around her head.
Six centuries of leaf-fall, sunlight, snow,

the incremental shadows every night
as they inched across the damp-flagged floor;
the sound of evensong and psalms.

Six centuries of peace and distant wars.
I brushed a cobweb from her face
and lit a candle at her pointed feet.

If I believed I would have knelt and prayed.
No one could tell me who she was or why
she held her own heart in between her palms.

Ian Parks is the author of eight collections of poems, one of which was a Poetry Book Society Choice. His versions of the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. His Selected Poems of Harold Massingham is due from Calder Valley Poetry. 


Rebecca Gethin


Katherine Craigie was sentenced to death on 12th July 1643 “for airt and pairt of the using and practeising of the witchcraftis, sorceries, divinatiounes and superstitiounes…”. She was then taken by the lockman “hir handis behind hir back, and caryit to the place of execution and thair wirreit at a staik and burnt in ashes”.

She listened to how the seals wailed and understood the chatter of gulls
which from their travels out to sea knew a future before it arrived.

She knew the virtues of plants, spells of leaves and roots, knelt
under trees, gave away her knowledge freely: healed

a baby’s teething, a woman’s bruising, a sailor’s cracked lips,
nursed islanders through birth and death with softly spoken words.

But when the law mentioned witch, people remembered how when
she passed their door, wind changed direction or hens stopped laying;

that once when she churned milk she’d said, Tara Gott, that’s done;
Saviskeal’s boat casten awa on the Riff o’ Saequoy just as it happened;

how when the newborn with a nuchal cord died a thunderstorm broke;
how curlews called and called as if in distress when she arrived;

how somehow she made people need her too much
and this was evidence enough to convict.

Rebecca Gethin has written 6 poetry publications. She was a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor.  Vanishings was published by Palewell Press in 2020 and Fathom by Marble in 2021. Messages was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition.  She blogs sporadically at www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com


Ruth Beddow

Love on the firth 
A Scotrail carriage pants into Inverkeithing.  
Name unravels along a vacant platform
bridges black water in heaps of grit, snow, grit, snow.
Granite outcrops like eider nests clarify
to human houses, as tired tracks screech, harbour lights blink
beneath a murmuration of domestic planes.
Ecologists say in a few years, those ducks
could outweigh people. Gulp every rope-grown mussel
before they reach the city’s plates.
And that sparse graveyard, those isolate lovers 
emerging from the station doors
affirm a slow decline of two-legged bodies:
he in football shorts and a fleece;     
she in stilettos and white skinny jeans.
Hands budding like crocus shoots around her naked waist
as ice wind asks the shape of love 
in the middle of an estuary.

Ruth is a local government officer who writes poems on the bus. Her work has recently featured in places like Ink, Sweat and Tears and Wild Court. She was shortlisted for the New Poets Prize, Plough Prize and Teignmouth Prize in 2021. Twitter: @ruthbeddow. 


James Appleby

Summer After

I bleach the fruit.
Whatever comes into my home
scrubbed, skinned. It lives
on food, kissed cheeks,
the groped handrail of a bus;
it lives in neighbours’ lungs.
Skin sunburn-pink
from how I’ve washed my hands,
this is my summer. Through the window
I watch a boy in a suit of tattoos
his hair lawn-green stretch back against the grass,
speakers and heartbeat synced.
The overflow of clubs onto my road: a woman
piggybacked through bollards, screaming
joyful, pissed of course,
swearing up at lampposts.
Through the glass, the reckless young.
The mark of my fingerprints.
Contaminators hold hands in the street.

James Appleby is a poet and translator. Born in 1993, his work has been published in Primo Poetica and is upcoming in Marble Poetry. His working languages are French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.