Poetry Drawer: End Of by Ali Hepburn

He was the worst person

who ever lived.


Languid silence brewed

between them, louder

than the everyday drone

of the dishwasher.


Tomorrow he will close the door

with finality, but today

weather the rain

of sharp looks.


Fault left a metallic

taste in the air,

stifling like petrichor

without rain; a November

thunderstorm musty and stale

with the scent of something



Light entered the window

at the wrong angle, always,

defying closed blinds,

hitting possessions scattered

like mocking props from

the lives they had enacted.


Grey words:

I can’t do this anymore.


Tea left on the counter.

Untouched. Tepid.

Poetry Drawer: Rust City by Ali Hepburn


A fissure divides the town.


On one side houses

in perfectly arranged rows,

green spaces

manicured, plants located

by design, straight lines,

undisputed symmetry,

the Garden City laid

according to intent.


Scuttling across the rift,

shoes echo dully

on worn concrete, crossing

between divided lives.

Trains hurtle below

to Elsewhere, screams

resonating the girders,

shuddering the structure

to crack open

the unreality.


The other side:

disused factories tower,

grandiose facades betrayed

by pristine paint now dirty grey

and peeling; a faded

mosaic of tiles motley

and disjointed, stained

with pigeon excrement. Iron

besieged by creeping rust

lays flaky waste to structure.


Sneaking moss paves the way

to colonisation.

Poetry Drawer: Crewe Green by Matthew Waldron


Squirrel intestines,

plucked fleshy harp strings thrum their valediction song across a gum dot constellation of rain-silvered pavement.


Bird scolds metallic,

jolted cutlery in a draw.

Wren zip wires across road,

long chain of chimes follow toward flailed wall of hawthorn through rare punctuations of road-shush cars:


sparks of arc weld,

ghosts of colour which shower the senses.

Drone music of traffic flow, all vehicular vibrato and baritone buzz.



slab of knife-cut blackcurrant jelly,


slap-stuck against a tiled wall.

Roadside smudge-edge yellow bars of paint imprison leathery leaves,

cigarette packet,

a denuded Sylvanian family mouse with arms and legs positioned mid-walk in an oily rainbow-stained wash of gravel

and beckon bony finger twigs.



fuzz-mottled with moss,

wind-rubbed by Mother Nature,

grey frieze figures in profile,

stained green;

eyes to the Heavens,

limb-stretched to-the-max,

loin cloths and muscles:

folds in wind-rippled flags.

Time Rewards Industry; Punishes Sloth:

Time? A clock no longer strikes,

hands above heart in permanent prayer.



pleated black gowns;

ironed grey waistcoats,


crackle in the clock tower,

fire-y laughter and rebuke.

They interplay solitaire with the ‘v’-shape fascia,


pop-out of cavities;

punches of portals;


answer back with a sharp beak crack,

ratcheted-up trills of blue tits` alarm calls,

the muted warning whistle of a nest-bound blackbird.


all out,


straight as skittles,

perch on a taut,

thick liquorice strand of insulated wire.

An anchor drops out of the sky,

falls in deceptive slow spirals and glides, closer, closer;

bright gold,


sieved at the edges of a black-hearted pool;

its eye.

Poetry Drawer: And Now, The Shipping Forecast by Ali Hepburn

Viking: northerly seven, occasionally gale eight

at first showers, good.


Waves toss him:

jetsam frantically

discarded, shipwreck,

a boat pulled down.


Tyne, Dogger: was four, becoming cyclonic seven

to severe gale nine, sleet then showers, good occasionally poor.


We cut a line. Fierce

walls of water slop

onto the deck,

eyes fixed ahead.


Lundy, Fastnet: west gale eight to storm ten,

veering northwest five to seven, moderate.


Salt stings eyes.

In that blink

he’s gone. Mouth

drier than air.


Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall: cyclonic

severe gale nine to violent storm eleven, poor.


‘Eyes to starboard!’

the shout goes out.

All we see is savage

churning and spray.


Poetry Drawer: Candlewax Bird by Matthew Waldron

   A light breeze, a feather breath, finds in the water, a reply: a pattern of brush marks; a bank-drawn thick rind of leaves and sticks, camouflaged via burnt chocolate uniform, disguise. White Mallard: location, a calm neighbour of rainfall and flood, his journey so far; straight, snag line in silk; a silvered scar. Its wing-clamped body, a reflection of melting candlewax, the bright orange beak, a surrendering flame. Landscape rises, falls, collapses, folds in on itself like a kneaded dough. A conformity of tall trees echo ‘a walk in the park’, intersperse with arboreal bold claim outsiders, parachuted in, garden boundary-breakers, bird seeded, sown, random spread.

    Rills of sunlight, lustrous lines in flash, in sky: little firmament frictions, clouded conflictions, waived convictions, temporary lumens lost and found. An application of silence, followed by wind-sway of branches as they create an aerial enclosure: Deer antlers engaged, locked in mid-battle; for some, an endless fight; others yield, become overwhelmed, are defeated: all reach for light. Clouds collect: forked mashed potato and butter; tines, a compromised gleam of farewell colour.

    Nearby HGV traffic churns, thuds and clanks: a shovel-loaded cement mixer. Rain coats memory of rain: time measured, it creates patinas, paced; falls upon papery brown, black-spotted leaves, which clutch out, upwards; so many hands of mercy. The impactful sound: sauté-simmer oil in saucepan. An embankment of wide grey stone path, all sheen, its shape echoes like the ocean`s skin when torn to adorn, wrap a form:  the breach from the deep, a Humpbacked Whale; glistens as dew upon leaf edge, or just-perceptible new tear on eyelid.  A muck-magnet charred orange peel basketball floats across flash, tugs twigs and a family of dark slime trails attach to slither in its wake. The weight of rain increases: a distant snare drum pattering. Footprints in mud, fill, to become dark wells of anonymity.

Poetry Drawer: Finding Doris by Matthew Waldron

Eyes open, aware, before lids break the sleep-gum seal from a staggered steal of sleep. Trains on the tracks; memory click-backs; time shunts forward, abrupt, jolts him onto his station ahead of schedule. Sound of wind contained, sucked in, soothed by soot-coated chimney brickwork; quiet, then frantic: a starling, swallowed, scratching as it searches for exit, for light.

He thinks of his Dad, hidden behind pages, locked in a cell, shadowed by the barred windows of Crime Fiction prose. Dad`s fingers tap dance armchair covers: woodpecker drums peck hole-peppered trunk in suspended solitude; advertises for the comfort of a mate.  

Amplified, small noises approach Dad in intervals: dust and debris beaten, shook from a rug; held out from an open doorway, step-back reluctance from finger-chill air, colour-coded blue. A lightly crumpled map appears on his face: new pathways, off-route, lead into journeys most feared; secret furrows and illuminated hollows reveal feelings insecure; contour shadows, ridges, rivulets deeper than before.

Father remains home; palms still perspire, soft-clamp cushioned arms: two mother cats jaw-maw a kitten each, warm, secure; the son leaves his home, walks beneath shark-like colours of a frost-coated, duvet-wrapped figure, hanging heavy above; ready to slow-shift, turnover in disturbed sleep.  

In the heart of the wood, he feels absorbed, held in its grain. Wind-split crocuses are shattered amethyst echoes of fragmented light from wind-scuffed skin of brook. Patches of rainwater hold reflection, smeared like post-tear wiped eyeshadow; worms washed up, rinsed onto the pathway, wriggle, drown; ask urgent questions in silence, a soggy broken script.

Trees bend inwards to support each other: many arms intertwine; hold strong an increasing invisible weight:  prevent the new born to fall. Branches creak, surreptitious footsteps upon stairs; cluster-balled families of fur, folds of skin, shut-eyed in the earth`s chambers of sighs. Invertebrates wait; concertina, coil, restrained whips.

Mid-freeze and melt sky, now needled; electricity, nerve exposure, prickled with silver light. He walks into a glassy wall of rain as it transforms into a petit pois of hailstones: ping-stings ricochet off already element-numbed features, eyelids, nose and cheekbones. Dark denim doubles, becomes midnight; soggy cold towel slaps his thighs, chill adheres, brings an ache to knees like an unwanted love, water collects in hems: the relative calm of waterfall pools.

He hunches forward, a lurcher-like form, walks above hollows and falls. A steep concrete embankment retains development, ‘urban sprawl’: multi-colour name tags and questionable claims of conquest graffiti-patina this wall.

Poetry Drawer: There Are Three Of Us by Michael Murray


There are three of us here together

myself, the window, and the garden  

as if one, a looking moment.

And the same light falling on each

though differently through tall

and skeletal trees.


The garden readies itself for the Spring surge;

a bird-shaped smudge on the glass – blackbird

or hawk? prey or predator –

throws the hue of old hydrangeas through

the whole spectrum, as that old owl

Newton had named it.  


I am blinded equally by colour

and clear air under a strengthening sun.

They confuse and exhilarate

with their profusion; their commentary

adding textures that contextualise

everything, everyone.


Poetry Drawer: First Light by Michael Murray

On the first day it rained.
How can you get anything done –
rain is the leveller, disturbing boundaries,
mixing sky and earth
into one element, mud.

And on the second day again;
listlessly the ripening thoughts spoiled,
the cold damp languor stealing-in
with its night of cloud.

And on the third again the same.
This must have been when they made
the Northern Quarter:
to be always waiting
and never to be called.

Another three days of this,
helpless behind steamed windows, mind
in stupor, body in torment; body in stupor,
mind in torment –

I walked out then,
without a coat, and Can you
still doubt me? I called.
Didn’t wait for a reply.

Poetry Drawer: Bog by Ali Hepburn

Underfoot, the peat sprang back

leaving watery footsteps

behind – there were no greens

or browns, only earth-colours

and moss-colours and a sense

of refuge from the inky pools beyond —

the kelpie-lairs and deeper fathoms

where dwell the ones who never made

the crossing. Ahead,

it shone as if lit by fool’s fire, white

with the coolness of old death,

hollow eyes long vacant, but staring,

knowing now the perils

of the mire. Horns,

regal and incredulous

in passive defeat, hung

with fronds of lichen

in gaudy decoration, the bog

speaking in warning,

in reclamation.