Issue Four – (Un)Natural


Deep One of Toad Hall
By Cardinal Cox

Pull the oars, pull; feather the blade
Beside river find a sweet glade

They say on fine summer mornings
Lord Pan walks where the river bends
Fields are worked by burley farmers
Beyond where the green forest ends
There’s a courthouse where law is done
Along the winding country road
In the Hall dwell a family
Who’ve much of the look of a toad

Pull the oars, pull; feather the blade
Make sure the game is fairly played

Dragonflies over the tall reeds
Kingfisher on shimmering wing
At dusk the silent owls all hunt
At dawn the smallest birds all sing
Rabbits on the misty heathland
Foxes hidden in the dark woods
Mighty Lord Toad would rule them all
With firm webbed hand, if only he could

Pull the oars, pull; feather the blade
Naughty young stoats have all been slayed


Butterfly Cinquain
By David Edwards

takes many roles…
Judge, Baker, Actor, Clown…
yet unnatural ones give it
hard, translucent; soft, misshapen;
the grotesque; the bizarre;
things better left



seed hidden in earth
shell snaps open reveals life
nothing known on earth

By DJ Tyrer


vines reaching
alive with animal spirit
strange fruits
burst messily
amniotic fluid
life finds a way
refuses constraints
of natural world

By Aeronwy Dafies


earth worms underfoot
after each night’s downpouring
a living sidewalk

By David Edwards


Wintercourse/ Through The Moon Pool
By Andrew Darlington

hollowed from grey shale
by horse’s hooves of centuries

shallow pool of shadows
glimpsed at winter intervals
south of shifting spires

shaped by bleak seasons
and the strange wintercourse
of north wind and snow when
ice makes lanterns flicker
and lacerates its surface
into cross-hatch wounds

a night pool spindle-limbed
with mirrored moonfrost
beneath the leafless
meteor-flash night


horse haunts night waters
no skin and half a rider
northern isles horror

By Aeronwy Dafies



Issue Three – Submergence

View From Atlantis
By DJ Tyrer

Beneath night-dark sea
Stars swim through long-lost ruins
Eternal breath held
Memories trapped in stasis
Ice-cold currents flowing by


Atlantis, free
to become endlessly
for Mankind anything: song… quest…
hope… dream

By David Edwards

By Andrew Darlington

I hear the soft murmur of waves
in the trees, damply aquatic,
fish dart in drizzles of rain
across fields of shimmering tide,
England, our new Atlantis
is sinking beneath the sea
lost and neglected, eroding away
in the gentle silt of forgetting
no future, frightened of today
submerging in dull nullity
retreating through leagues of regret,
I pause, squelching through wetland
and listen to history draining away
in the soft murmuring of tide,
riverbanks ebb into lakes,
high streets into a swans glide
of disturbed dreams where
steeples collapse in the flood
swallowed by undercurrents,
this is the dream I once had,
those not drowned are drowning,
we dissolve into mist
and float away…


God of Sea
By Clive Donovan

It was as if the God of sea himself rose up
Streaming from his shoulders, weed and attendant fish;

Commanding, with stiff trident, waves and foam and tide.
We always knew he was down in there somewhere deep,

Receiving shoals, directing whales and dolphins,
Dealing with plastic chemical gifts from land.

But now he’d had enough and in his wrath divine,
Roaring with the force of a tsunami, he wept:

Great salt tears plopped wetly on the seaside towns
And the people died, scrabbling, in scum of sea.


Atlantis, The Submergence.
Was it inch by inch
like the remnant of a dream,
or sudden in occurrence
as lightning flash seen
laterally at distance?

By David Edwards


The Drowning
By Aeronwy Dafies

In the dreams of Edgar Cayce
Atlantis emerging, wreathed in wisdom
But, in reality, it seems
As if everywhere slowly is submerging
Drowning in water, plastic, hate
A topsy–turvy world of nightmares
With dreams left undreamed


By Clive Donovan

The river flows down the street now.
It bubbles up through tarmac,
Slips over shop steps, celebrating,
Barges into doorways,
Creates dark, slopping pools in cellars.
Rats discover new platforms.
Chewing turds they mutter among themselves
Tasting disorder, this perilous turnaround:
The mangled glass, the shifting of wood
And look in the supermarkets! Look up! See!
See the flimsy roof
Where the pigeons roost.
Eyeing up the sodden porridge below.
And what is this mania for scattering?
Everything is so dispersed!
Cars, bottles, office chairs, clothes hangers;
As if litter doesn’t matter any more,
Is no longer a crime.
The rats shake their heads, hop over sand bags,
Make fine novel fortresses
In places once forbidden.


Issue Two – Horrifical

Dream Of Ceridwen
By J.S. Watts

Full moon tonight.
How the lunatics howl.
Dark shadows pass on four soft feet.
The dead sleep fitfully.

Tonight the walls of the world
are thin and words will come
knocking on my door
with a whisper of moonlight.

Idiots clank their imagined chains
and cackle in their sleep.
The silent ones creep on.
I am reborn.

Hecate’s Eucharist, my salvation.
I eat the moon’s crisp wafer
and drink from her grail of liquid silver,
cupped in Ceridwen’s dark cauldron.

Whiteness scours my veins
and repaints the world.
Clarity pulses and unnamed shades
pay pale homage.

Into this land of metamorphosis
the words will come.
Hesitantly at first,
then in an undeniable torrent,

demanding utterance.
They will have their way.
I can refuse them nothing.
The frenzy is upon me.

Moon passed,
passion spent. The incandescence
fades and the fools
laugh knowingly.

This mundane world is grey.
Grey of ash fills my skull.
The words retreat
with a rustle of moon dust.

A version of this poem was published in Twisted Tongue in December 2009

J.S.Watts is a British poet and novelist. She has published six books to date: two poetry collections, Cats and Other Myths and Years Ago You Coloured Me, plus a multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue, all published by Lapwing Publications, and a shiny new poetry pamphlet, The Submerged Sea, published by Dempsey & Windle. Her poem, Steelyard Sue Builds A Baby, won the 2013 Data Dump Award and was reprinted in the celebratory booklet, Small Press Voyager, from Atlantean Publishing. Her two novels, A Darker Moon – dark, literary fantasy, and Witchlight – paranormal with a touch of romance, are published by Vagabondage Press. See for further details.

Blood donation
Technician smiles pointily
Takes more than a pint

By DS Davidson


Stories Knives Tell Us
By Cardinal Cox

Is the red wound deep or shallow?
Did the knife have one edge or two?
Will attacker go to gallows?
Be careful where you place your shoe
Is it a slash or maybe stab?
If a slash, right-left or left-right?
No, no, leave that spot, do not dab
Did it happen in day or night?
How did the fresh blood flow or fall?
Form a trail or die on the spot?
Was the attacker short or tall?
All crimson threads tied in a knot
Where is the knife? Where is the knife
That ends this particular life?


Witches’ Moon
By Aeronwy Dafies

Yellow moon leers a grin
Watches with crater eyes
As witches voyage astral skies
And Hallowe’en begins
Each witch carrying a curse
Nightmares, sour milk and worse
Spreading diabolical sin


The Mogollin Monster
By Richard Stevenson

Arizona’s Bigfoot from the Mogollin Rim…
Supposedly bipedal, and seven feet tall!
Has long black or reddish hair
and large wild red eyes. Stinks too!

They say he smells like dead fish,
decaying peat moss, the musk of
a snapping turtle. Could he be a Skunk Ape
on a walkabout? A meat eater who don’t brush

or floss his teeth? Maybe decaying meat
gets stuck in hard-to-reach places
and just rots away. Or maybe he swills
with swamp water, drinks from polluted streams.

His blood-curdling screams
sound like a woman in great distress,
but when a human hunter gets too close,
the forest goes silent. All ears cock

as he breaks tree limbs and thunders
crashing through the bush, throwing rocks
from spots he likes to hide behind.
You don’t want to find him in such a mood.

He’s rude and – Eugh! Eugh! Phew! –
tired of rotting veggies when he spies
dinner on the hoof. Best back off
in your own small footprints then.

Mogollin Monster, known to decapitate
deer, rip a victim open to get at
his entrails. Not one to sip blood daintily
with a soup spoon, or dab with serviettes.

Likes to chaw on limb bones, suck
the marrow out of ‘em for late
night snacks. Best not to be caught back-
packing in fluorescent gorey Gortex.

Cell phones get no reception and
might as well be crunchy beetles.
Small caliber bullets might as well be mosquitoes.
They annoy, but can’t kill this bad bandito!

Richard Stevenson has recently retired from a thirty-year teaching gig at Lethbridge College and has published thirty books and a CD of jazz and poetry in that time. His most recent books are Rock, Scissors, Paper: The Clifford Olson Murders, a long poem sequence from Dreaming Big Publications in the US (2016), and A Gaggle of Geese, haikai poems and sequences from Alba Publications in the UK (2017).


Issue One – Luck

Signora Fortuna,
my lush lady luck;
from this thicket a rose
for your manicured pluck.

Signora Fortuna,
my sweet muse of chance;
must you stand on my toes
when the dice come to dance?

Signora Fortuna,
my fine bitch on heat;
my readies are willing
to fall at your feet.

Signora Fortuna,
my wanton Gestalt;
will you beef up my shilling
or slug me with salt?

By David Houston


Lady Luck
By DS Davidson

Sweet smile, evil eye
Romance always ends badly
Life falling apart
Lady Luck abandons you
Leaving disaster behind


The Desire And Wanting Of Favours
By Clive Donovan

We used to play at stroking Buddha’s belly,
Rubbing to encourage luck.
We sent aloft our supplications,
Puffs of prayers in fragrant smoke,

In ceremonies we indulged,
Befriending useful acolytes.
We offered up and often ate
The bribes of our own sacrifices.

We invented the glory of deities
And, too, their fickle wives.
We shamelessly panhandled them,
Adoring to improve our lives.

But now we are sophisticates, so smooth,
We merely have to visualize;
We summon up deft images
With potent positive focused thought
Creating manifold abundances of wealth
From which to choose
All aught whilom we did desire.

These dreamed-up rites of modern witchery
I eschew,
And nobbled
By the scheming writ of robber gods
who rushed

To rub and bribe me, fed and scried
And then decreed I could receive
Most anything asked for, rich and goodly
Except the best, the gift-boxed best,
Bare-grasped…deprived…of precious you.


The Astrological Sign and The Dollar Sign
By Mark Hudson

One day in my printmaking art class a man did
an amazing print of a mountain ram, and two women
were so impressed, that they both offered to buy the
proof that was done on newsprint.
They were both interested, so one of the women,
a Northwestern professor, suggested, “Let’s flip a coin.”
They flipped a coin, and the Northwestern
professor won the print.
“I knew my astrological sign was at its heightened
power today,” said the Northwestern professor. She then
paid for the print, and took it and went home.
As soon as she left, the man pulled out another
version of the exact same print on really good paper
and sold it for a higher price to the other woman, but
it was on a better paper that would be more archival.
Perhaps the lesson to learn is haste makes waste.
Or perhaps it means that you cannot always trust astrology. Is
that why on dollar bills it says, “In God we trust?”


By Aeronwy Dafies

The Evil Eye
Directed at you
A curse projected
Upon your soul
Every little mishap
Possible shall come your way
A missed bus
A missed appointment
Any form of bad luck
Growing worse and worse


Luck Faking
By Clive Donovan

You tread on cracks crazing the pavement
And pretend you didn’t.
You hide an ace up your sleeve when you know
There’s one already on the baize

And even cheat with clover leaves
Adding one with three to make four.
Stealing luck. Amazing! Fake!
Tricks like this don’t work no more,
So: walk beneath that leaning ladder
Outside number thirteen’s door,
And chuck away those horse-shoes. Invite
A short blond friend to start the year with.

I’ll be the cat that’s black that
One might see or maybe not at night
And no-one can agree on whether
It’s me, or if I’m lucky or not.