Rainbows Unbounded by Ceinwen Elizabeth Cariad Haydon

(after Langston Hughes, I, too, am America)

You are pale, you are dark,

You are coloured in-between.

You are man, you are woman

You are proudly gender fluid.

You are gay, you are hetero,

You are bi, you are asexual.

You, too, are America.


You praise gods, you are agnostic,

You are new age, you are orthodox.

You are Asian or Mongolian,

You are African or Caucasian.

You are Latina or Latino,

You are Japanese, from Reno.

You, too, are America.


You are city folk or farmers,

You rated Bush or Obama.

You voted red or voted blue,

You like the old or like the new.

You love the South or love the North,

You wondered what DT was worth.

You, too, are America.


You are old, you are young,

You are healthy, you are ailing.

You read, you watch TV,

You are wise, you are flaky.

You are weak, you are strong,

You are right, you are wrong.

You, too, are America.


You are none of these,

You are yourself.

You are all of these,

That is your wealth.

Are you America?

Don’t Let Us Die by Stephen Jarrell Williams


don’t let us die

we that are starving

in all corners of the world


we have our dreams

butterflies in the air

with a full tummy

before we sleep.

Don't Let Us Die


Stephen Jarrell Williams writes and draws late into the night, watching out his window for the Coming Good Dawn.

Everything we worked for is at risk by Maya Horton

It started in childhood. That low hum

of disapproval at our parents’ mistakes. We tried

to tutor them in a humanity they wouldn’t understand.

Sacrificed shiny-shoed futures

to make art in run-down houses, underground bunkers, drink

cheap wine around trashcan fires. We fell in love,

grew up – in vegan squats and railway carriages – dogs

on strings. Saluted the sun, that solstice-pink sun.


And now, there are armies (or will be), and bombs.

Now there are others – obeyers – with drones. Now

they will round up the sick and creative. Our

minimum-wage jobs? The first to be cut.


Outsourcing. Empathy is a chain –

with it, they will choke us, bind us. Throw us aside;

one day we will long for those trashcan fires

woodsmoke and starlight,

those childhood nights

spent tip-toeing around a passed-out parent.


We were supposed to change the world, weren’t we?


We were supposed to see,

with the clarity of strong young hearts

and good education,

a better way of being.

Calais 26th October, 2016 by Sonia Lawrence

Hope and fear steal from city to city,

wretched and homeless, is there no pity?

Desperation spreads  a grief-mesh round.


Let them endure, meet with veracity

a climate so cold, barely making sound.

Wretched and homeless, is there no pity?


Children are snatched from the vicinity

scared and bewildered, never found.

Hope and fear steal from city to city.


Aid agents observe much duplicity,

they have few answers, more questions crowd round.

Wretched and homeless, is there no pity?


The Jungle blazes, spiked ferocity,

Skin scorched with tear gas, camps torched to the ground.

Hope and fear steal from city to city.


All human to human atrocity,

rabid, cankerous, bigotry profound.

Hope and fear steal from city to city,

wretched and homeless, is there no pity?

Within the Body Politic by Michael Peck

Within the body politic
the infection breeds
first is the discomfort
then comes the enduring pain
until what is brewing inside
erupts on the outside
the source of the pain
forecasting the coming demise
the decimation of the host
and that disease within
Greece, Rome, Spain, France, England,
have all succumbed in the past
to the infectious disease
The head refuses to acknowledge
the foot
the state ignores
the need for world interdependence
the people think
independence is possessions
wealth and power
forgetting where they came from
the ground they stand on
where they will return
the grand compost heap
the steaming raw material
that life will use
to form
its next experiment

They answered the call to prayer by David R Mellor

On their knees

For the unholy one ..

For the veil to fall on every woman’s face

Every beer to be swiped from every hand


They answered the call 

Of the devil, dry and poisonous to touch



 Ataturk’s throat


 Freedom of speech


Protesters and leave their bodies hanging in the streets

Turn Kurds

 Into dead meat


They answered the drum beat

Pounding through street

Let’s become greater Saudi Arabia

With me the sultan on the seat

I saw the Children by Stephen Jarrell Williams

I saw the children marching

a long protest march

against all that is wrong

and in their faces I saw us

a better us

doing so much more

and here they come

their laughter

and spirit

and strength


all the sad monsters of this world.

I Saw The Children



Stephen Jarrell Williams writes and draws late into the night, watching out his window for the Coming Good Dawn.

I Will Not by Vera Ignatowitsch

You were not there to watch when he

‘allegedly assaulted’ me

You point out facts that you distort.

My pants were tight. My skirt was short.

My perfume sucked the rapist in.

Expensive jewelry is a sin.

I had a drink; I smoked a joint.

“Those were advertisements.” You point

to my behavior, dress, and speech

as causes of this horrid breach

of all my rights. Your helping me

is nothing but a travesty.

How dare you heap me in disgrace?

He pulled a knife. He slashed my face.

He tore my body, beat me lame,

and now you won’t release his name?

Protect his rights, but shove your blame.

I will not wear your mask of shame.

Mother Kiss by Vera Ignatowitsch

At the door I look up

half a flight where she looms,

inviting me shockingly

to give her a kiss.


Astonished, I bound

up the steps for this thing

I long for, the velvety cheek

imprinted in baby time.


The kiss barely covers

a sniff when her hand

smashes into my head.

I fly back and down


half a flight, then a full one

down stairs to the basement,

bruised only, not broken

so no one will know.


No one ever knows.

Hawks Flying by Ananya S Guha

It does not happen
That I ‘m tired of being
A man
I’m tired of death and dyiñg
Bombing and fighting
Missile chasing and shooting
I’m tired of rabid hating
And dividing the race
With contorted face
I’m tired of homilies
And similes by leaders
Who are brackish
I’m tired of peace mongering
War mongering
Blood letting
I am tired of these
And hawks flying.

Form 696 by Des Mannay

I’m rich – but in ways that rich people don’t understand,
when we fight back we have to link hands.
My boss keeps tellin’ me to work harder:
I’m running on empty – no food in the larder.
Work is a prison – without release.
Form 696: intimidation – we get no peace
and 666 is the number of the beast,
turn it upside down and you get the police.
We’re supposed to mourn Blakelock but forget Blair Peach.
Justice: a concept that’s just out of reach –
look at all the black deaths in cells,
if cops come in behind a mattress, then you get hell
The original Black Death was spread by rats,
now they’re in a uniform – and that’s a fact Jack.
Estates across England, Scotland and Wales
now party with Molotov cocktails
When you attack our music – you build unity,
treat us all like a suspect community.
This system we live under has failed inspection,
time is ripe….. for insurrection.
Why the cops hate Grime
A storm of protest hit last week over the way police are using form 696 to shut down Grime events. Even the Tory Culture Minister, – an oxymoron if ever there was one – has been getting in on the act.
Grime began as a predominantly black music form – rooted in confrontation to stop and search and police raids. It caught on big time with kids dumped on the scrap heap in austerity Britain, and became a multi-cultural underground scene; drawing comparison to the rise of Punk. By 2011 Lethal Bizzle’s Pow! (Forward) was the unofficial soundtrack of the student protests.
While police deny their form targets certain genres of music, the BBC’Victoria Derbyshire Programme found that some forces around the UK were “still asking for the ethnic make-up of the audience attending and the music genre being played at an event”. Leicestershire Police still ask for the ethnic make-up of the audience attending and the music genre. Bedfordshire Police also ask for the music genre on its form, saying that “failure to complete the risk assessment correctly may jeopardise future events by the promoter and the venue”. A Freedom of Information request also found a version of the form has now been adopted by 16 other forces in England.
Grime artists and MCs such as P Money have spoken out to slam the measures as ‘racist’. Giggs had his tour cancelled in 2010 following police advice. P Money said he had been removed from gig line-ups on account of information passed on via the form.
In 2014, after one of his performances was cancelled at short notice, the artist JME said “It’s an attack on people’s civil liberties, but also it’s blatant discrimination.” In 2012 at an event at a mainstream live venue, organisers say that police insisted on searching 18 performers for weapons before they went on stage, as well as a group of young people on work experience organised by a charity.
In 2011, a cultural event organised by London youth arts charity A New Direction aimed at young people, featuring Bhangra drummers and a 14-year-old talent contest winner, was informed the day before the show that extra security would be required or the event could be cancelled. The resulting cost took the event over budget and two police vans were deployed outside the event.
Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said the form was “flawed”, adding: “You do not get more crime with young black men than you do with young white men or anyone else.”

Fly-Tipping Point by Marc Woodward

This is where we sit to watch the night come in
ever since Trumputin bombed our English towns.
We emptied freezers, ate our neighbours pets.
Now in the bird-settling, when once we sat down

to be tamed by tv shows we can’t recall,
we recline here and watch the weeds approach
knowing soon their rope will be a ligature
that tightly winds itself around our throats.



To name but a few by Pamela Ireland Duffy

(To the proprietors of the pro-Brexit press, sundry trolls, and anyone else who tells me to shut up and get over it.)


Don’t tell me how to love

the country of my birth

don’t tell me that to love my country

I must be like you

and not like me

Don’t tell that you built my country

on your wealth

or won my country on the battlefield

Your wealth was stolen from the womb

of mother Africa

plundered from other homelands

painted red and called The Empire.


My country was not won

in far-off lands

where brave men paid the price

of madmen’s sins

My country was woven in the mills of Lancashire

from cotton picked by brothers and sisters

some called slaves,

and hewn in darkness down the pit

by coalminers

My country was carried on the backs

of common labourers

forged in the sweat of steel-workers

and fed by farmhands

working in the fields

from dawn till dusk

My country was told in folktales

wound round maypoles

danced in clogs

and gathered in at harvest time

by common men and women

just like me.


So don’t tell me how to be British

The Tolpuddle martyrs were British

The men and women at Peterloo were British

Percy Shelley and William Blake were British

the Suffragettes were British

the Conscientious Objectors were British

the trespassers on Kinder Scout were British

the Committee of One Hundred were British

the women of Greenham Common were British

my mum and dad who hated violence

but fought a war to stop Hitler and his Nazis

were British

the 16 million who voted to stay

in the European Union were British

to name but a few

so don’t tell me I must be like you

and not like them

and not like me.


Don’t tell me that I cannot love

another country

or a continent

or all the continents and oceans

of this planet earth

You do not own

the people’s heart

and you cannot define me

and I will take no lessons

in patriotism

from the rattling ghost

of Empire past.

Augury by Charley Reay

Their ladders ain’t for us to climb, we don’t have the money

to waste.  Some things are simply beyond our power,

our weapons are the subtle charms of the fairer sex.

Leave it for the men to make their declarations, fight their war –

as bright as a nuclear flash, and just as toxic.

We will care for one another, patch their wounded masculinity

hold the threads of civilization

by the force of our will

The summer of the Age of Man soon

enough, my dear, will turn to fall.


Charley Reay is a writer and spoken word artist from the Lincolnshire Fens.  She is currently based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, where she has lived for almost a decade.  Her poems have been published by Obsessed With Pipework, 3 Drops from a Cauldron and Writers Against Prejudice.  She is also a regular performer on the North East spoken word scene including feature sets at Stanza, Babble Gum and Poetry Jam. You can follow her on Twitter @charleyreay

It’s Not Nothing by Cath Campbell

It’s not nothing, said the man,
bending, though his back
flamed with old scarring.
It’s not nothing, said the man
from a land bombarded in hate,
home long gone, inferno and war.

He lifted the bird into his palm,
hands softer than summer rain,
cleaned the glued remnants
of fun from each feather,
felt its wee heart start with fear.
He had known that too.

Quiet, he walked to the open door,
looked out on wildflower fields,
moved to the cool of the trees,
placed the small bird in a bush,
and sighed for all the lost ones.
It’s not nothing, he said.

Every Note a Promise by Mark Farley

Death has come to visit.
He’s unpacked and settled
in the main bedroom
with the ghost
of my mother. They drink wine
until midnight and shriek
with laughter, waking
my teenage daughter
who makes her outrage
obvious via the medium
of slammed doors. Yesterday
I heard Death making love.
My daughter heard it
too. We sat together
in the cellar, beside the last
remaining bottle of wine.
The others were drunk
by Mother before she died.
She said it kept her young.


Mark Farley has been shortlisted and highly commended for the Bridport Prize. Find him on Twitter (@mumbletoes) or via his blog (http://mumbletoes.blogspot.com/).

Raggedy Man by Louise M. Hart

He sits silently

In a stinking underpass-

Raggedy man

His hollow eyes

Reflecting his soul, like glass

A benefit scrounger

Drops a pound coin

Into raggedy man’s hat

“Only the poor give to the poor,”

He thinks


He eats empty plates of thought

For dinner

And dreams of being fat

For his heart has no home

His body resides

In the West Midlands of nowhere

He does not even own a cat

Called Bob
Man, it is boring here

Where he cannot afford a beer

Or a filtered cigarette of regrets

His tongue is lined with the sweat

Of circumstance

Because his Mother called him, “a sinner”


Gay as fuck

He was big in Moseley once

Now he is invisible

Awaiting his ponce

In the city


Banker man leaves works at 5.33

He passes Mr Raggedy

And notices the delicate curve of his lips

His noble brown eyes…

And orange stained finger tips

He smiles

And takes him from behind

If All Of Us Were A Football Team by Antony Owen

If Ali was a football side who would support him as he defended his right to wave a new flag coz his old one had faded? If Ali was sent off in the first minute for being cut down would we share the replay and agree he should not be banned or is it just too upsetting and not in vogue to discuss? If a foul was committed against Basra United would we all shout “ah come on ref” or just wait for something more meaningful to shout and sing about. There is no Basra United, there is only United and United and some forms of United make us cheer or not cheer. Imagine if Spurs or Barcelona never turned up because the game was just too hard, can you picture the outpouring of passion and anger? Imagine if the game on Gaza beach next to jumpers on goal posts took place on a day when fifty-one people cheered for something more than football it would be everything about football and life I’d truly wanna see. Can you imagine how some would be enraged at people cheering for their side and their side? Imagine if they’d kicked the ball over the wall like I did as a kid and asked my neighbour if I could have my ball back and they sent back “no” in bombs or soldiers. If all of us were football teams I’d be supporting all of them as one team so none of them could lose. If all of us were football teams we could all play together and hold aloft the silverware with all our names on it. We’d all meet down the boozer where they’d use beer kegs as drums and all of us would get drunk on being together as one massive city we all could support. Nobody would goad each other, a man would not have his tyre slashed because of the wrong kit colour, a few good men and women too tired to carry on would be helped over the finishing line and be told that even the boring goals matter in this long game we’re all trying to win. If all of us were football teams I’d be hugging you way before the final whistle and extra time would be given to the massive bench where sixty million substitutes wait looking for a new home. They want to feel supported, their form of escapism is different. They all want to play, all of us could win.