Letter to the Great British Bake Off by Marc Woodward


Dear Bake Off,
I do hope you can help me?
I’m sure you’re very busy
with the move to Channel 4
but I want a certain recipe.
It’s not your Brangelina Split
– I know it’s very popular
for the tranquillising effect
but I hate the sickly aftertaste.
I want that cake that’s baked and baked
till it’s burnt to a smoking crumble,
then divided between contestants
and smashed up like an Eton Mess.
Was it called the Aleppo?
Your help would be appreciated
and I’m sorry to hear about you
losing your best presenters.
It must feel like losing an arm.
Or a child.

Nadia by Marjon Van Bruggen

Nadia is a girl

She is a Yazidi girl

She is a very brave Yazidi girl

She is a very brave victimized Yazidi girl

She is a very brave victimized and orphaned Yazidi girl

She became enslaved

She was (legally !!!!) raped

She managed to escape and was a refugee

She had to endure all this, because she is an innocent Yazidi girl.

She now has an advocate

who is ashamed

and says so in an assembly of the UN

she is proud to present Nadia

as a survivor,

a Yazidi leader

a Nobel Peace Prize nominee

a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations.

Her name is Nadia Murad.

a negative image by Kevin W. Fuller

I don’t know blight,
or famine, I have not
tasted the sweet blisters
formed from napalm,
or seen true shock
and awe rain down
on my city. I yet
have not fled home
in real terror,
left my family behind,
myself but a naked child..
or had my child
torn from me,
my arms no shield
for a bouquet
bloomed from bullets,
I have heard
of leaflets announcing
Freedom falling,
, I imagine quiet,
as any dead
left to collect
these promise notes
in the crooks
of their elbows,
the dead palms
of their open hands…
letters from humanity
to none, even the living
who survive.

Home Sweet Home by Jennifer Lagier

Hospice arranges transport,

delivers the necessary equipment

because mom wants to come home.

Gentle paramedics maneuver

her gurney across threshold,

navigate narrow hallway,

settle her into the hospital bed

in the den where she will spend

the rest of her life.


She is able to breakfast

at the kitchen table,

shuffle two or three laps

around the living room

with her walker before

snuggling into leather recliner

with paper, blanket,

steaming hot toddy.


Friends and neighbors

arrive in shifts

to deliver flowers,

pay their final respects.

Soon every surface

is covered with bouquets,

chilling precursor

of inevitable funeral day.

Like a Movie by Jennifer Lagier

An interchangeable cast

of cranky actors costumed as nurses

or white-coated specialists

move in and out

of your hospital room.


They ignore the name

listed above your bed,

printed upon wrist band.

Wordlessly perform a variety

of medical functions.


So far, they’ve pricked

your finger, mistaking you

for the unresponsive diabetic

on the opposite gurney.


Administered respiratory therapy

intended for a guy across the hall.

Tried to dose you with

the incorrect chemo.


Food service bungles

90% of your orders.

Twice they forget

to deliver your dinner.


Over and over

you remind them

you can walk on your own

when they insist

on a walker or wheelchair.


You wonder if the pathology report

of metastasized malignancy

actually belongs to you.

Try to convince yourself

it’s just one more mistake.



Malpractice by Jennifer Lagier

For six months

mom has complained

of stomach pain

to her impatient doctor.

His records document

breast cancer surgery,

chemotherapy, radiation,

spread of malignant cells

into her stomach.


Despite her history,

no new scans are ordered.

He tells her she’s

just getting old.

The breathlessness,

exhaustion and weight loss,

common symptoms of aging.


When she develops bloating,

severe constipation,

he prescribes an

over the counter laxative,

sends her off for an x-ray,

says all is normal.


A week after she collapses

from debilitating diarrhea,

is taken to emergency by paramedics,

a consulting gastroenterologist

discovers an intestinal blockage.

Seven days later, a surgeon

opens her to reveal

the inoperable cancer.


Jennifer Lagier has published twelve books and in literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Newest books: Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press), Harbingers (Blue Light Press). Forthcoming chapbook:, Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Website: http://jlagier.net

what do lunchtime and minority book descriptions have in common? by Eva Gu

unless you grasp me by the hair and force almonds into my eyes

unless you smear peach yogurt on my skin, slant me crooked, italicized font always to


times new roman, unless my skin is actually made of vanilla flavored cream,

stop making me your character

to snack on.

don’t say i by Eva Gu

in your poems, he said. it makes it

too personal apparently, which makes me wonder

what else is too personal for him

to bear. when blood ran from my body

like the life of the nile

he ran too

for his own life

because my womanness was too much for his body to understand.

i am not me, period. i am me


the definition of oppression is not my identity

so don’t slip that harness over my head

don’t make me walk the tightrope between


and living

my mother was not a feminist

but she lived a feminist

and i

will do


my mother tells me by Eva Gu

she likes her accent. it doesn’t hurt

when the broken edges of her english cut her

the way they cut ariel’s feet when she

walked on the shards of her slippers.

a long time ago her english teacher once told her

never to be ashamed of who

she was, that americans love

the accents of the exotic, and i

was too ashamed of my country to tell her

the truth: that we love the white sand beaches of third world countries, but forget when

malnutrition shrivels their bones

just as easily as ours

fatten. how could i explain that when her english teacher said the exotic, he meant



and french?

mother, i hated having to break the truth

to you: that there’s a line between being

fashionably foreign and being

too foreign. those people only love

what’s theirs.


originally published in The Eunoia Review

Eva Gu is a Chinese American writer/poet. She has attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop, and her work is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review. She reads for Polyphony HS.

Person Specification by Jonathan Taylor

You will be a high achiever

who knows everyone else is not.


You will be the kind of person who leads

by accepting a new company Audi

on a morning you announce redundancies.


You should have wide experience

in eating previously healthy organisations

from within. In terms of qualifications

you will hold a grade A in Asset Stripping

and Parasitism.


You will have the skills necessary to tie

in knots of regulations anyone who needs

tying up. Deep down, you will believe

people rather like it. Leadership is bondage.

Remember, it’s all about those acronyms:

BDSM – Bondage, Domination, Sado-



You will enjoy making jokes about bondage

to your personal assistant, as well as

relevant sexist or racist or ageist

(delete as appropriate) comments

and will be an expert at clarifying afterwards

that any offence was the employee’s fault

for not having a sense of humour.

After all, tone is everything for a leader

when faced with a tribunal.


You will like suits, football and golf

and you will have a family incarcerated

in a frame on your desk.


You will be happy to make difficult decisions

while dressing them up in frilly tutus.

Your cross-dressing decisions will curtsey,

pirouette, grand jeté, plié faster and faster

until all the mesmerised audience can do

is gasp and applaud and then file

out of the auditorium in an orderly fashion,

switching the lights off as they go.


Jonathan Taylor is an author, lecturer and critic. His books include the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015), the memoir Take Me Home: Parkinson’s, My Father, Myself (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collectionMusicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.

Burning Issue by Paul Brookes

Aid convoy burns.

OMG a long time married

celebrity couple divorces


Help smoulders.

What could have broken the



Care fatigue

turns our eyes.


Paul Brookes has been published in many magazines in the south west. He performed as a member of the poetry in performance group “Rats for Love” and his work was included in their 1989 publication “Rats for Love: The Book” by Bristol Broadsides His first chapbook published in 1993 was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley” by Dearne Community Arts.
His website is thewombwellrainbow@wordpress.com

Get Your Tits Out by Johanna Boal

It is that expression

which I have never liked –

Get Your Tits Out!

They are breasts, belonging to me.


My body with its hang-ups

exposed to a louder, penetrating tone,

to show them on a wolf whistle

feels more battered and bruised.


This morning I received a letter

to have my tits out/checked.

A mammogram, a massive steel machine

with lights and buttons,


the fun my husband has,

and the milk that was supplied.

Plates came crashing on my tits

flattened, spreading like pancake batter.


I gritted my teeth to manage the pain

sweat poured from forehead,

my arms went numb,

I must have been white as the gown I wore.


The nurse was very reassuring and I noticed

her hands were not treating my tits like objects.


Johanna Boal 2016

Waters of Cauvery by Ananya S Guha

Now there is fight over water
bitter, the taste of it has left
foul smell. Only two dead.
The numbers are lessening
in this country, people more civilised
only two, out of millions
the waters of the river cannot flow
into another place. Water is ours,
bind it with ornate temples of hate.
Kill all of those who want the sacred water
polluted. Let others starve, commit suicide.
Water is ours. No left over to spill over.
I love my country, but we cannot spare
precious water. Otherwise we kill.
But only two? I ask, from the other side of a country.
Yes only two killed, but I warn you if more water
is let loose from our side, we will go to the other
and make it our land.
Ours is democracy
Ours is freedom to live anywhere
die anywhere
kill anywhere
Only two, I mumble.

“Why, Dad?” by Paul Brookes

It happens a lot.

I look up to see

a soldier

with the butt of his rifle

move Dad forward.

“Why, Dad?”

“They don’t know where

we belong.” He says.


Paul Brookes has been published in many magazines in the south west. He performed as a member of the poetry in performance group “Rats for Love” and his work was included in their 1989 publication “Rats for Love: The Book” by Bristol Broadsides

His first chapbook published in 1993 was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley” by Dearne Community Arts

His website is thewombwellrainbow@wordpress.com

What a Little Boy should never See by Marjon Van Bruggen

The poor city bathed in blood

each drop in the name of one god or another

aftermath of a violent, destructive

and inhuman storm.

His mum, his dad, both are gone.

Are they dead? He does not know.

Home, he seizes the small statues,

once a cherished gift from them,

now they enrage him; they stand

so placid and silent on bookshelves

and table tops they seem out of place.

Decapitated heads, amputated arms

and severed legs crash in all directions

in splashes of marble, stone and porcelain.

Explosive red flares before his eyes

equalising the street scenes.

This is what he sees the rest of his life.

One Down by Marc Woodward

When the news came out
that Donald Trump
was behind 9/11
so Trump tower
would be the tallest building
no one was really surprised.
After the initial fuss
Republican voters
pointed out that
Sure, it was a bad thing to do –
but at least he was a man of action
not like that Muslim Obama
who’d never even built his own tower
and didn’t have a pilot’s licence either.
And also: wasn’t that falling man
a Mexican? Just sayin’…”

I Stain by Caroline Hardaker

It seeps through any timeworn cloth –

this bright wine.

Listen to it, crisping, already

the middle distilling –

marking stages out, in sight.

Rings, tree rings, ley lines,

layers like hills. A map;

been here, there, here

and wherever the rag goes, a tracer

there, and here, seeping

from where the bullet met beef;

a touch away from a tenderer touch

but came to meet me anyway.

It split me.

A fine wine

listen to it, crisping, already

the middle distilling,

riven into mountains and miles

and the sea in-between.


Caroline Hardaker lives in the north east of England and earned her BA and MA from Newcastle University. Her poetry has been published worldwide, most recently or forthcoming in The Stinging Fly, Neon Magazine, Allegro, and Rat’s Ass Review. She was Pankhearst’s Fresh Featured Poet for March 2016, and is a poetry and drama reviewer for the Three Drops From a Cauldron e-zine. Her debut pamphlet collection, ‘Eye, Tongue, Machinus’ will be released with Goya Press in February 2017.

.sunday morning. by Sonja Benskin Mesher

sunday morning is often quiet here early .the radio playing.


did you know they play music alongside bird  song. a special



we sit quiet and listen.  you see i think the swallows have gone.

i did not see them leaving.


in syria they drop bombs   to gas the children.





.apologies. by Sonja Benskin Mesher

it has come out in a rush of words, i do not wish to offend.


i have been studying history lately, and though i cannot spel

correctly always

i have to say that i am ashamed of my country too.


and the effect all these things have on people

who do not offend.