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. 

Poem, Poetry

Gareth Culshaw


He wore a hat on each foot.
Put socks on his hands.
When the neighbours saw him
he said he got dressed with his
eyes closed.

Some said when his wife died
he found out who he wasn’t.
The pool cue he carried between pubs
stayed in the hallway, leaned against
the wall like an umbrella.

He still washed her clothes
and hung them out on the line.
If the postman knocked he answered
him through the bay window.
Took his post via his mouth.

If it rained he swapped his hat
and socks. If the sun came out he
swapped them back. But if frost
came he did not know what to do,
so left them at home on the sofa.

Gareth lives in Wales. He has two collections by FutureCycle called The Miner & A Bard’s View. He is a current student of Manchester Met. 

Poem, Poetry

Kevin Higgins

All The Angel of History Sees Now
“His face is turned toward the past.” Walter Benjamin

The leaping orange
of make-do cremations in New Delhi car parks,
the bones being taken away to be crushed;
the Cold Blob loitering in the far north,
planning who knows what for the weather;
the National Park only slightly
less on fire than yesterday;
bargain slave children to be had
in the market squares of
newly liberated Libya.

His eyes never settle on what
the things he witnesses will overthrow,
what they will force to be born

bawling its purple jowled displeasure
at being expelled from the quiet life
into a future it cannot know
but must nevertheless make.

In 2016 The Stinging Fly magazine described Kevin Higgins as “likely the most read living poet in Ireland. His poems have been quoted in The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times (London), Hot Press, The Daily Mirror and on The Vincent Browne Show, and read aloud by film director Ken Loach at a political meeting.

Poem, Poetry

Ian Clarke

Sunday School

No happy water giggling over pebbles,
just a slow river wide through the fen,
to the estuary, to a tern’s cry in a breaking wave.

From my window I could see the church tower’s stone owl,
our allotment’s skylark, clay pipes and cockleshells,
a field of wheat lace-wing green.

Home was jam on a rolling boil,
Victoria plums sweet as ice bright air,
where the dawn chorus spread from blackbird to thrush,
and on August evenings the moon still warm
by the jetty where steps sagged to the steep dark.

But that morning on the road to Sunday school,
a green car tangled under ice,
the wind sang in cold wires all the way to class,
hands frost nipped, waiting in line for the teacher’s
chairs on tables, fingers on lips.

On the way home, tyre tracks, blood on winter aconites,
black ice they said, where he lost control,
slipped under the river’s edge.

I thought of him during lessons –
All Things Bright and Beautiful, Onward Christian Soldiers,
all sure and steadfast, blood and fire,
listening to the wind’s prayer,
the tick of sleet on high windows.

Later, coming home as the light faded,
passing that tease of deep water,
me aged thirteen, freewheeling, whooping it up,
steel tips sparking the road from church.

Ian Clarke.  Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate. Published widely in anthologies, in magazines and on-line. Latest book Owl Lit published by Dempsey and Windle (2017).