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Small Witness IV – A poem from Antonia Taylor


As a child life happened in summer. Whole years passed in salt & shade.
When the drought came, you found God leaking from the tap outside,
picking up the past from his pocket, spitting apricot stones, a peace treaty.

You kept the war of dirty hair secret & lately memories come like bullets.
Forgetting is not native to you. You run from it, empty its half-language into a dried well.

Your daughter’s sleeplessness becomes yours, a reverse inheritance.

Become the forest floor, the frozen fountain, in the country
where they disappeared the trees.

It’s a lie that the sun always rises. Last March you woke early to clear darkness
from a wet sleeve. Belonging doesn’t pass through the female line.

It always comes back to a gunshot.

You can wear carelessness like a cast-off shirt. It returns every year like a military parade.
You try not to die from the gleam of it.

Translate this: 1,500 persons missing on both sides. The women still wear black
& die most days.

About the poet: Antonia Taylor is a British Cypriot writer, communications expert, and poet. Her work has appeared in Propel, Ambit, Harana, South, New Contexts, Blood Moon Poetry, Marble Magazine, Dear Reader, and Indelible Literary Journal. She lives in Reading, with her family.

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Powers of the Air – A poem from Geoff Sawers

Powers of the Air

spirits of blood and vapour
clay wings
paper hearts
clockwork nightingales in drenched thorn scrub
belting silver showers of granite and grain

pike-toothed paths
comet-ice-hair and
so you step up but your body trails behind you
hooked to the shadow of a second to come

where there’s a flame
in your fingers
‘Hush’ on the jukebox
and all the poems you’ll never write because you won’t
drift curling like tender sparks into the night

I feel it
if only sometimes
furred on the inside
you don’t stop to listen that’s a fault but you
face forward to mirror the future your eyes are fins

from Sulhamstead at dusk
to Sheffield Lock
herons stiffen their spines
and all the books that you won’t start although you’ll live them
lie open in the grass for the stars to write

Geoff Sawers

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Two Poems by Kitty Hawkins

On Inadequate Road Resurfacing in Berkshire


The cherry blossom
is teetering, Addington’s
edges extending.


Pavements: tentative
enduring, cautious trellis
molasses tarmac.


Arthritic layers
lamenting, gnarled and buried
putrid ambience.


A mountainous crown
compressing, cloaks of divots
rhythmically splinter.


Happiest Woman in the World

It is unbearable to think about the snow
or unopened books.

It is unbearable to think alone
grit enclosing, I urge my eyes to run.

It is unbearable to think at all
muffled between desk and door.

People gather in Palmer Park.
I slump at the window, and repeat –


Kitty Hawkins received two awards for her undergraduate poetry collection, Acoustics, at the University of Reading. In 2022 she won the ‘Magdalena Young Poets’ award, and her work can be found on Kitty is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

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What is Left of England? – A poem from Richard Stephenson

What is Left of England?

What is left of England?
January 878. Chippenham, midwinter.
The king has fled.
The people have no king.
The people have no country.

What is left of England?
But a dream of what used to be.

February 878. Somerset Marshes, winter,
The king is hiding.
The people are lost,
And the Vikings hold the country.

What is left of England,
cannot be found.

What is left of England?
April 878. Athney, early spring.
The king is plotting.
The people are stirring.
But the Viking holds the country.

What is left of England?
But an idea of what could be.

Whitsuntide 878. Egburt’s Stone.
The king returns to the people.
The people return to the king.
But the Vikings hold the country
Will the country fight the Viking?

What is left of England?
A dream a hope a belief.

May 878. Edington. Spring.
The people fight for the king.
The king fights for the people.
The Vikings flee the country.

What remains of England,
Is stronger than the sword.


Richard Stephenson runs the Dreading Poetry Slam under the name The Legend that is Richard Stephenson.
He took up poetry shortly after moving to Reading towards the end of the 20th century.
He works in London as an engineer and important middle manager.