Idlib, by Steven Croft

We don’t sleep anymore, waking,
unwaking, all the same nightmare.
Today tragedy killed us — we
are servants of God but the War,
pounding its giant steps, found
our home, and I found all my life,
my daughter’s body, in a gauze
of dust, acrid smoke perfuming
her careful shape, my worried hands
on her death-marbled face, fingers
scared to touch the truth.  I
hear my ghost wailing.
Steven Croft is the author of two chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time.  He has recent poems in Politics/ Letters LiveSky Island Journal, and As It Ought to Be Magazine.

Threre poems by S.E.Ingraham


An anthropologist,
she lived through
high drama.
Arrested by the Gestapo
for her role in the formation
of the French Resistance
Charges included could have
led to death
at Ravensbrueck
Designated to disappear
under Hitler’s famous
Nacht and Nebel
(night and fog) decree,
she survived.
Her mother, picked up
for hiding
a British airman,
died in a gas chamber
in 1945—
selected for death
for having white hair.
After the war, Tillion,
—an important
public intellectual
in the 1950s and 60s—
when thinkers like
Aron and Sartre
passionately debated,
she argued
French responsibility
to Algerians.
She delved into the past
to recall spectres of the Gestapo
becoming one of the first,
loudest voices
to protest French torture
of Algerian prisoners.
Tillion, who did not marry,
nor have children—
wrote an operetta—
A Camp Worker Goes to Hell,
while in the concentration camp.
Kept in a drawer for 60 years,
worried, “…people would get
the wrong idea, think we were
enjoying ourselves…”
The sheer darkness
of the humour
makes that unlikely.
A character joked that
the camp offers
“all the creature comforts –
water, gas, electricity –
especially gas.”
(Germaine Tillion 1907 – 2008 – anthropologist, hero, received sage status, for moral authority and lucid intellect)
Lately, every time I go on-line,
every time I open a new site,
or someone posts some new link,
I really wish I could be anywhere
but where I am…
Just…elsewhere, you know?
There are these photos of obviously
wealthy men (and if it isn’t obvious by
their clothes and grooming; they tell you
in the captions just how very well-off
these decadent sorts are), slumped
casually in a canvas-backed chair.
At first glance, it almost looks as if the
man with the perfectly coifed silver hair
might be just stroking a large male lion.
But there’s something off about the lion
And it doesn’t take long to discover
he’s been skinned, he’s dead —
and then further reading leads to
the abysmal fact that he’s just one of many
that was raised specifically to be hunted
down and slain for this man’s pleasure
(or another just like him).
Of course, lions are just one large game
species that fit the bill for this abhorrent
practise…and this, this is legal and above
board…it’s all about the money.
What isn’t legal but still goes on at an alarming
rate is poaching – rhinos, elephants, tigers –
you name it; if it’s becoming extinct…it’s
still being poached.
Of course, some animals are already gone,
hunted or poached into extinction. They’re—
I guess you could say—already elsewhere.

When that guy Snowden came out with his information
about all the inappropriate snooping the government
does routinely on ordinary folks
It didn’t surprise me in the least
Maybe it comes from watching too much of that show,
Person of Interest. I think it mirrors what Snowden’s
afraid of, and has gone to great lengths to talk about
People say to me that he’s just out for the publicity,
he’s a traitor; he’s this and he’s that.
I have a problem with this theory
He’s a man without a country now. He has to live in hiding,
probably for the rest of his life.
He tried to go through proper channels with his info when
he first discovered it, and was told by the powers that be,
he would likely be indicted, spend years in jail.
I agree with those who think he’s done a courageous
thing –
Will it do any good?
I really don’t know – I hope I don’t ever personally have to
find out.

projections in the night, by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon


we met in the shade of that bright summer
innocent of the strength of hate
our country faced

you saw first
you touched my wrist

as knowledge dawned
I left my life
to join you in the struggle
you thought we all could win

even then   none could anticipate
what horror
the rolled-out months would bring
poisonous lies   death hidden in mad clowns’ mouths
buried under blond coifs

too late   our people witnessed
tsunamis of destruction   hate crime    broken Britain
cowered   trampled under fascist privilege


we parted in shadows of dark winter months
near-defeated by all that came to pass
you touched my wrist
said goodbye and left to give your life
for our last-ditch struggle to survive

you and your kin redeemed lost hope
defeated damned despair

your sacrifice stirred apathy to action
late in the day   truth dawned
we are many they are few

our victory is fragile   our vision new
and deep in my night-time dreams
you touch my wrist

my mind   my heart
my life

Grinning men, by Angi Holden

Their cruelty makes them feel good,
makes them feel proud, happy,
closer to one another.

In such a whirlwind it can be hard to keep track.

Children of immigrants, protected status revoked,
a blanket ban on visas for Chinese students,
and for same-sex partners of foreign officials.

Supporters cheer as the president mocks a professor,
her testimony. Now malice is embraced as virtue, impossible to contain.

Cruelty and rhetoric, intimately connected, flay his targets,
Adolescent male cruelty: a bonding mechanism,
a vehicle for intimacy through contempt. They have done it together.

We hear the cruel laughter:
immigrant children separated from families;
a child with Down syndrome separated from her mother.
News hosts mock a survivor of massacre,
the women who said the president had assaulted them,
the teen survivors of a school shooting.

The president mocks the thousands killed
and tens of thousands displaced by hurricane;
the black athletes protesting killings by police;
the women of #MeToo;
the disabled reporter whose crime was reporting truthfully.

The perpetrators of this cruelty enjoy it;
they enjoy it with one another. Their shared laughter
is an adhesive that binds them to one another.

Taking joy in suffering is more human
than most would like to admit.
Somewhere between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men
is the community built on the anguish of those unlike them.

They pledge fealty to principles
they have no intention of respecting.
Supporters who fancy themselves champions of free speech,
who want to ban immigration by an entire religion,
who encourage police to brutalize suspects,
now lament the state of due process.

A clear principle: Only the anointed are entitled to rights,
protections of the law, immunity from it.
The rest are entitled only to cruelty.
The powerful have ever kept the powerless in their place.



from: ADAM SERWER writing in The Atlantic

fall silent again, by Mandy Macdonald


deafens / terrifies
they will not shut up
nothing they say beautiful
or true
mangled language
lies bleeding

lies lies
lies lies lies
lies lies lies lies
(repeat ad nauseam
usque ad mortem
not long now)

like a cat they have nine lies
at least
cat o nine tales
tall tales
none of them true
shut up we say shut up but
they don’t hear
flagellated by their own noise
swishing & roaring while

we are driven back bleeding
into silence

Two poems by Ingrid Bruck

What you do to them, you do to me

I went to view the 87 page shooter’s manifesto
but social media had deleted it.
Should I accept this for the supposed greater good?
What are the ethics of depriving me a view
of the grist of a hate mongering document,
purged from the internet, forced underground.
Being sent there could co-opt its appeal
for unhappy young men,
weak and susceptible to lure.
I can understand the shooter
wants to play the internet,
wants to trawl for white killer recruits.
When did government get the right
to treat us as brainless fools?
When did we let go of the right
to decide for ourselves?
When did We the People vanish?


100 Muslim Massacre

“Headlong his gallop
on knee-tight held horses.
Headlong his hot charge
mad for mad massacre.”


Killer, you were mad for mad massacre
(like Aneirin told us in year 590 AD):
fifty New Zealanders dead, fifty more shot,
Muslims of all ages,
children, an old grandfather

Killer, you, a white supremacist crusader,
posted a 87 page manifesto
rage, rage against the dying of the light.
You will not claim a martyr’s death prematurely,
will not go gentle.
You, young man of 28, a bereaved son
missing the father of 49 he lost to cancer,
how dare you misdirect the words of Dylan Thomas

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says you brought evil
to an island of peace and tolerance,
vows never to speak your name.
Brendan Tarrant, she enacted a new gun law in six days
and social media took down your internet posts

Killer, you trapped your victims
on a desert of raw gunshot wounds.
You gamed and trained in chat and meme,
pandered your innocence
on the world wide web.
Remorseless Muslim slayer,
memorial posters proclaim, We Are They

How did you lose contact with butterflies?
There is power in the kiwi silver fern,
it lights the opera house in Sydney,
bigger than you’ll ever know.
My Aotearoa friend tells me she cries again
when she see this photo of condolence,
the fern unfurls, cups, holds her in silver silence

  • After: Dylan Thomas & Audrey Lourde:

 Dylan Thomas – “Do not go gentle into that good night” &
“rage, rage against the dying of the light “
Audrey Lourde, “I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds”

Too many news of death, by Ananya S Guha

Too many news of death
no news of birth
only statistics of population growth
India is overcrowded
India is dying with the living they say
Too many news of death
the population is a mere release of birth
but the death is in statistics
in the billions of birth
A story of a nation wanting to sort out births
not deaths
A millions will assault
A thousands will die everyday unreported
Too many news of death
the tears move in eyes of those born.

#MeToo, by Nancy Dunlop

I wish I hadn’t publicly shared that I was a #MeToo.

I thought it would feel cathartic.

It didn’t.

I thought it would help me feel a stronger bond with women who also said #MeToo.  Help to bring us out of our personal isolations.

It didn’t.

I feared that if my male friends saw that I was a #MeToo, they would get uneasy, and I would need to protect them from hearing bad things.   So, did this allow me to feel like I could be honest with men I knew?  Gain their support?  A shoulder to lean on?

It didn’t.

I had the tiniest pipe dream that men would see #MeToo, and it would make them speak up, show some outrage, some sort of appropriate reaction.

It didn’t.

I feared that if I came out as #MeToo, I would be met with, not just outright denial, but with aggression and anger, like I was jumping onto the trendy #MeToo bandwagon.  Just, you know, for attention.  I mean, really, it can’t be THAT many women, can it?   And you’ve never talked about any kind of assault before. Why did you wait until now?  And really, what IS “assault”?  And boys will be boys, good clean fun, so just shut up, already.  Did this fear of backlash get alleviated by #MeToo?

It didn’t.

Did my whisper of #MeToo serve to show that “I’d rape ya” is not a compliment?  That fear of sexual assault makes day-to-day harassment (on the street, in the office, in the elevator, in the club, in the dorm room, in the home, on the bus, in the parking lot, on the cell phone) possible because it shuts us up?  Because we don’t want escalation?  This obscene comment; those icky leers; being told to smile; being touched, grabbed, squeezed, groped, stroked; having men expose themselves in the park, on our phones; being followed for blocks, stalked, downright chased in broad daylight, all the while putting on our game faces, pretending that nothing is happening, nothing is wrong because we don’t want to make things worse for ourselves?  Because we’ve been groomed since childhood to expect being approached but also to be wary of trouble, and well . . . we’re just asking for it, anyway, right?  Now:  Has my description of what women face everyday make people suddenly SEE that we face a daily gauntlet, a battle zone, just in, say, a short walk to work? My guess is:

It didn’t.

So, never mind.  Don’t give it a thought.  Did a man with a knife sexually assault me under the streetlight that night, trying to force me into his car?  Did I experience prolonged hand-to-hand combat, my screams surely heard but ignored?  All those apartment windows with screens in for springtime, resting there above us, not one light turned on, as we tussled our way down the street?  Was I drenched in blood, after grabbing the knife blade, right before he pressed it through my shirt, so much blood it puddled in my shoes?  Did the investigating officer in the ER say that I couldn’t blame the attacker for wanting to “fuck me” because, after all, “we all want that?”  Did this event make me fear random men and what they might do or say, at any time?  Make me fear cops?  Does this flashback visit me, still?  Does it level me?  Do women have far worse stories than this?  No.  Never mind.  I retract my statement.  No more “Me Too” nonsense.  It didn’t happen.

It didn’t.

Beds of roses, by Dave Rendle

Finding no sanctuary in my sleep
Nightmares roaring in my head
Scenes of desolation and devastation
Certainly no bed of roses

In war ravaged countries
The rattling call of injustice
A cauldron of death and despair
No respite or any beds of roses

Amid the poverty and desperation
Where people grieve for their dead
The ever flowing tide of human misery
For the children, no beds of roses.

Anguished eyes gaze, frail hands reach out
Barren lands flooding with tears overflowing
Global silence decapacitating hope
as the night calls, no bed of roses.

While humanity turns away and abandons
Another dawn exudes deaths mephitic odour
How can we fail to speak out, not be silent
Reach out, cultivate fertile beds of roses.

An injury to one is an injury to all
A collective thorn of pain and misery
We can cover our eyes, be indifferent
Or help those in need, offer beds of roses ,

From the heartache, filled with cries
We can send messages to the politicians
The gift of solidarity to those that deserve
And when wars cease, beds of roses will grow.

You Do Not Speak For Me, by Harry Gallagher

You do not speak for me.
The sparrow has my voice,
busying between hedgerows,
English as a cloudy day,
more English than you anyway.

That oldman and his dog,
out at dawn beachcombing,
letting the morning tickle
his mouth up at the edges,
his gait carries my weight
as he lightens the day.

The wildflowers on verges,
reaching for something
they can never quite touch,
but stretching all the same,
smudging their glories
all over the mundane.

These Saturday kids,
smiling through braces,
serving ice creams on days
when ‘hot’ doesn’t cut it,
learning that patience is
waiting for sainted grandmas
to choose between
sprinkles or flake.

The policeman, the plumber,
the teacher, roadsweeper,
prampushing mums,
gleaming proud dads,
the Sunday funrunners
replenishing the sweat
with a pint of English best
after winning their bet.

The lifesaver doctor,
last hour of her shift
who hasn’t slept since
God only knows when;
as kindas kiss it betters
to the latest in a line
of confused oldladies
who all ask the same thing;
‘But where were you born dear?’
and ‘Ooh what a lovely smile,
what lovely skin’,
as she holds their hands,
asks them where it hurts.

This is my England.
Its voice is not scabrous,
its sound is soft.
Its fingers reach down
to pick up the fallen,
brushing them down,
to hold them aloft.

Your tone is shrill,
a study in antipathy.
You are not my England
and you do not speak for me.

CTO, by Henry Bladon

Bladon 3

You can live free in the community
(as long as we always know where you live).

You must take medication
(which you don’t want because it makes you feel bad)

We will call these drugs ‘treatment’
(which is stretching the truth).

We will respect your opinion
(but over-ride it if we so choose).

You may claim you are well
(but we will decide).

You must remember your appointments
(even though your brain is fuzzy).

If you do not comply, we reserve the right to deprive you of your liberty against your will even though you have agreed to these conditions under duress and may take a different view of your life.
(That’s just how the system works, I’m afraid.)


Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) are a statutory instrument of control in psychiatric practice. Commonly used worldwide, they were introduced in the UK in 2008. They require a person to live at a stated address and to accept such treatments (generally psychotropic drugs) as are deemed necessary.

Artwork is Nobody’s City by Dutch artist Marcel Herms (Netherlands)

Henry Bladon is a writer of short fiction and poetry based in Somerset in the UK. He has degrees in psychology and mental health policy and a PhD in literature and creative writing. His work can be seen in Fewer than 500, Pure Slush, Truth Serum Press, Flash Frontier, and O:JA&L, among other places.

Two poems by Kushal Poddar

Psychometrics of a Refugee 


Nothing borders
the inkblot of teen secrets.
Doc, it looks like a cave
to stow away
a summer whose red plastic ball
still tumbles heartbeats around.


In the empty space
God resides, and inside
an abstract of my tenement.
I negotiate its staircase.
My hands barely hold those vacant cartons
you want for storing my home.


Doc, playing tarots
with my pet witch?
Last night I counted Four, Three, Two…
to lose sight on
my shadow, pagan, mating with my
other silhouettes at the Stonehenge.


I shall always see a butterfly in a Rorschach Test, and the word ‘Memory’
will feel my nostrils with the ghost fragrance of a zoo.


A Bullet Not For The Bystanders

 ‘A wrong blood’, they say to the widow.
The bat in the brittle heart of hers battles the harsh
daylight. What is a right blood? 

Meanwhile one bullet that missed the bystander’s chest
shadows its own failure, fails to settle down.
Who did it want? In the dark someone
climbs up our stairs. We hear the knocker. 

‘He can be an angel or a wrong blood’,
you say. ‘Should we open?’ Silence.


Edited the online magazine ‘Words Surfacing’.
Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), A Place For Your Ghost Animals (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), Understanding The Neighborhood (BRP, Australia), Scratches Within (Barbara Maat, Florida), Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems  (BRP, Australia) and Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems (Hawakal Publishers, India) and now Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel (Alien Buddha Press)
Author Facebook-

/black power/ by Clara B. Jones

You wanted to meet Pope.L, but he failed to understand the details of playing the market by using proper tools to open doors on Wall Street where traders are bullish about CO2 and global warming since drones fly through toxic air. You should share your wealth with negro men using malware to revolt at Goldman-Sachs® and Nordstrom’s®—where Afrobots are subject to virtual attacks. You’ll figure it out though the poor eat more pork than any other group, and it’s time to ask Norway to cure the obese. You have infinite data on your laptop, but gigabits could offer so much more. You defined black power as a financial game played in Harlem and Grosse Pointe or in homeless shelters selling lottery tickets at reduced cost—proving that spite never evolved in the colored race. Some day you will send post cards to everyone on welfare inviting them to an Ibsen play though “The Doll’s House” lies and tells the truth at the same time. You prefer a peaceful solution to the Korean problem, and the banks want contracts with firms in Seoul to close deals for poets seeking Asian patrons. Simply put, racism is a form of decadence and misogyny a type of nihilism. Households carry trillions of dollars in debt, and philanthropy alone can’t solve their problems though NGOs are federally funded, and the powerless always feel oppressed. You are optimistic about the economy, but corporate greed is out of hand, and you’re obsessed with hedge funds that will make you rich for life.


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other works, she is author of the collection, Poems for Rachel Dolezal (GaussPDF, 2019).

The Third Child, by Frank McMahon

Our state assumes the third child
Needs no food or clothes, shelter
Cot or  toys. Our state assumes
That what is stretched and threadbare
Will go further when moral fibre
Is applied. Our state assumes
That just before you copulate
You both will take appropriate precautions
And bear in mind that for the poor
Conception should be subjected
To rigorous analysis
Of all the costs and benefits.
Our state assumes that for the poor,
The joy of a new-born child, the third,
Should be tempered by poverty and want.

Our state assumes that all the rest
can procreate carefree and have
as many children as they want.
They are the ruling classes after all.

Two windows, by Mandy Pannett

There’s a green and daisy window
brimming with light. A river where fish
gleam and swim and an old stone bridge
where people stroll in a merry moment of day.

There is a window, Magritte style, devastated
by fragments of rubble and dust. A river swollen
with blooded limbs and a bridge that’s severed
into two parts; an un-merry moment of day.

Three poems by Mary Bone

Finding My Voice

I was silent for awhile
Until I found my voice.
A shrill sound through the night
Echoed in the canyon.
Crickets joined in and the noises got louder.
There are no roses here in the valley.
Food is scarce,
The air is stagnant.
We are waiting for a fresh breeze
To awaken our senses.


Trash Burners

My eyes and nostrils burn
From the stench of
The trash burners.
Windows are closed.
Smoke circles over our heads
When we open the door.
I am still trying to breathe.


Crossing Borders

Crossing borders
Into other places.
Drawing lines
On a wrinkled face,
Speaking languages with gestures
And signs.
Miracles are waiting to happen
In the sands of time.


 My poems can be found at Spillwords, The Writing Disorder, Literary Librarian, The BeZine, Literary Yard and other places.

It is the sound, by Frank McMahon

of a child abandoned on a hillside
of a man’s tears falling across a rock
of a seabird caught in a trough of oil
of a whale lost amongst the throb of engines
of a mother pleading for the life of her child

It is a sound
drawn from wet, wind-hammered fells
drawn from the curlew’s piping
and the lapwings winter cry
drawn from the farmer robbed of his fields
drawn from the tribes driven into exile
drawn from a saw cutting bone

It is a sound distilled
from the edge of extinction
from war’s obliteration
from the driving out of mercy.

It is sound that grinds against the skin
that lacerates the heart
but is not heard by all and so it must be amplified
a threnody for the loss of hope
played by the last surviving piper.

Crapperwocky, by Sue Barnard

(with profuse apologies to Lewis Carroll)  

’Twas Brexit, and the slithy Gove
did drone and prattle all the while;
All creepy were the Rees-Mogg’s leer
and the Farage’s smile.

Beware the Brexitbus, my friends –
the figures lie, the words deceive:
“A fortune for the NHS”
to tempt you to vote Leave.

Beware the immigration meme,
the poster that incites to hate,
the promise to “take back control”,
the lies exposed – too late.

As Leavers gloat, Remainers weep.
The country can do naught but fall.
Meanwhile, the snarky Maybot seeks
a way to please them all.

“This is my deal,” the Maybot cries,
“Trade, backstop, and passports of blue!
Three times I set it forth to you;
therefore, it must be true.”

Cockwombles all refuse to see
the UK dying at a stroke,
and turn deaf ears as through the land
six million cry: “Revoke!”

“Oh loathsome day!” the red-tops scream
when Leaving Day doth come and go.
“Tusk, Tusk! What will befall us now?”
Response: “We do not know.”

And all the while the Cameron
(creator of this clusterfuck)
writes memoirs in his garden shed.
As if we give a ****.

’Twas Brexit, and the slithy Gove
did drone and prattle all the while;
All creepy were the Rees-Mogg’s leer
and the Farage’s smile.


Sue Barnard

Author and Editor at Crooked Cat Books and Ocelot Press

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NOVELSThe Ghostly Father  Nice Girls Don’t  The Unkindest Cut of All  Never on Saturday  Heathcliff  Finding Nina

POETRY: Variations on an Apology