The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 5 “Love & Music”


by Julia Webb

Brother zoom-zooms in on the back of the moon with his buzz-cut
hair and eyeball bulge and the pound-pound bass and the knock-
knock door and friends troop up-down up-down and the fridge
door open-shut open-shut and beer cans on window ledge balance
and bare legs swing-swing on the flat lounge roof and he say hiss-
hiss go away sis this is big man stuff and smoke leak-leaks from his
nose and laughing swell-swells and spills out of his room along the
landing and oh the boom-boom how it shakes the house and the
bang-bang neighbour at the door and Mum’s car in the drive and
suddenly suddenly hush-hush quiet.

Previously published in High Window

what heart does
by Julia Webb

heart is a small engine of desire
that resides in the chest

love is a slippery eel of a thing
rarely seen and difficult to catch

heart understands that love
is not a thing of peaks and blips

when heart dozes
love goes cavorting

Love poem to my mother’s house
by Julia Webb

Oh, your metal chairs question the dark
their outlines shine ghostly in the light
from the video clock display.
Other furniture hulks at your corners
hoarding its treasure, its cargo of books
and important papers, its bottles and potions.
Oh, you are a church to fancy goods,
mountaining things we might need later –
duplicates, useful gadgets,
your telephone sings out among a fleet of tables,
wind chimes jingle when anyone opens the door,
your carpets are magnets for hair and dust.
Oh this is the bed that softs her weary bones,
and this is the washing machine whose song eats the morning.
You are the house my mother painted
In her turquoises and golds,
all her shades of optimism and woe,
There is a web at your window
to keep the daydreams and the nightmares in.

Your heart never belonged to me anyway
by Julia Webb

You preferred my heart finely grated, sprinkled on top of stuff. Don’t dirty me
with your messy emotions, you once said, but mostly you just changed the
subject, finished off the packet of biscuits – that thing you call tidying up. That
was the difference between us I suppose – me liking to eke things out, save
something for later, you liking to use it all up in a frenzied burst.

by Susan Castillo Street

At square-dancing classes,
under our skirts, we wore petticoats
made of yards and yards of scratchy net.

We whirled and spun. Allemand left,
dos-si-dos fiddles dipped and wailed,
stirred thick hot Louisiana night.

The boys tried their best to hold us tight,
foiled by acres of lethal ruffles.
We were prickly female hedgehogs

encased in foaming chastity,
fending them off,

Lake Garda
by Maggie Mackay

where I fell for Cole’s ‘Begin the Beguine
here summer soaked me in her heat,
where ribbon-forks of flash-shiverp
peppered the heavens, where whizz crack
burst the stillness of ancient stars.

Dizzy, disappointed with Italian flirts,
I searched the showy sky
where a floating Cima Valdritta snarled.
Below its tip, tail lights flickered,
rubies stolen from Sophia’s lakeside villa.
Each pair blinked on roads across the water,
negotiating dangerous turns.

That night I dreamed the scent of mimosa,
the flutter of white sails on glass.
You were cradling me under a lemon tree
and your smile brushed my lips

Babe, you turn me on
by Mark Connors

Funny how some songs
have us doing all sorts.
This one’s about the butcher bird.
I download a podcast
from the BBC archive.

When I hear its song
it sounds like Coltrane
doing Pop Goes the Weasel
before losing himself
to mimic all he hears.

I wanted it for our wedding
but that line in the first verse
(which I won’t go into now)
was just too damn sexual
so we opted for another track
from the Lyre of Orpheus.

I was crazed by you then,
have been for the previous
4 minutes 21 seconds.

Warm wet circles
for Gill Lambert
by Mark Connors

And you know how this goes;
she’s all yours till the slow walk

for her last train home
to a new station built for love.

It’s a ritual you haven’t known
since you were twenty-years young:

one eye on her, one on the platform clock,
the fruit of a Malbec still ripe on her tongue.

Her comic uncertainty – which carriage to board.
Your different route back to an empty house,

to unwashed glasses and plates in the sink,
warm wet circles on table and bed sheet,

a ghost scent from the oil burner’s set wax,
the forgotten cardigan, a goodnight text.

by Simon Williams

My mother, in her innocence,
thought it had to be a doorbell
or a bicycle liked the tune,
deemed it ‘catchy’.

The BBC, more world-wise,
banned it, in case it corrupted
the youth of ’72.
Kept it Puppy Love and Popcorn.

Most of us knew exactly
what he was singing about,
gave him his only Number One;
a chuck and two berries.

by Simon Williams

Yes, I know the cards, but that’s no excuse
for assuming I offer more than readings.
Why should I stay and play priestess
to your hierophant, empress to your
flash magician. Cologne and a cab
won’t cut it – ring out for an escort.
I like a shag as much as anyone,
but sometimes I need much more than rod.

In response to Stay With Me

Wrong side of town
by Simon Williams

At the last committee meeting of The Pack,
I stood for the position of Executive Chair,
more commonly, The Leader, and was surprised
to gain more votes than any other candidate.

Perhaps that’s what attracted her. Without
appearing rude, she wasn’t easy to discourage,
always at my side and pulling all the breath
from me when she rode pillion. I was discomforted.

In the end, I tried to break it to her gently,
explained we were both young and should
be living life more freely. She didn’t take it well,
but I thought it was mere sulking.

With only two wheels on my hog,
the brake line was an easy target, ‘Look Out!’
a clever cover line. My BUPA package gave me
a choice of hospital – I was out of there.

It was a wake-up call. I moved to Surrey,
became a landscape gardener. I get my power
from a wind farm, plant my food under the full moon
but, occasionally, I still burn rubber on my Segue.

after Chateau Lobby Number 4 by Father John Misty

by Simon Williams

Since we started doing the honeymoons
(forced on us by the cost of upkeep),
you wouldn’t believe the ‘interactions’,

in just about every room in the place.
There are 36 bedrooms, so you can imagine
the reception rooms and utilities.

We have discreet staff, but there’s a
high turnover. Always knock, we tell them,
even when it’s a cupboard… or chest of drawers.

Song line
by Simon Williams

When you two were too awake for sleep,
I’d sing, as though a stroke of words
might smooth your eyelids down.
Hardly a lullaby, but soft and wanting,
a sailor’s song of turnabout, making for land,
I’d tell the boys that we’re homeward bound.

I watch Tom, walking my grandson to sleep.
In his voice the weary night never worries me;
Reuben’s off like a deckhand in a hammock.
Later, Matt – Rosa in his lap – sings
and the same lament rises in his baritone;
I’d fly above her, to the one I love.

Lines in italics are from Cyril Tawney’s The Grey Funnel Line.

The attraction of music
by Cath Barton

Paris, 1904

To the Salle Pleyel, rue du Faubourg St Honoré, to hear a new piece by Monsieur Ravel. A string quartet, dedicated to Monsieur Fauré. There they are, so close to us. Ravel has an angular face, chiselled eyebrows. I am immediately enamoured, but hélas I have heard that he is not the marrying kind. I can see that R is nervous as F stands over him. I would not wish to have that man, with his extravagant moustaches, for a teacher. I long to rescue R, but I must stay in my seat.

It is so hot in the hall, the players’ wing collars are chafing their necks. A line of discomfort. The music is divine, I am transported. At the end I want to jump up. But I remain demure.

Edinburgh, 1904

My father, a child who has not reached his second birthday, is learning to live in a cold city. For the first time, on this day, he smiles on hearing music. He knows nothing of the woman who, on this day, in another city, has fallen in love with an unattainable French composer. She who is not yet born as his daughter, in her next incarnation.

London, 2014

To the Wigmore Hall, a concert of string quartets. The players are women, tall and elegant in black gowns and sparkly heels. I could fall for any of them in the blink of an eye. But I am distracted because there is someone who should be here with me.

In the interval I sip lukewarm white wine and gaze in wonder at the sequinned shoulders of the viola player, so close.

In the second half they play Ravel. It is like the first hearing, with my father. And when I turn there he is, smiling at me.

The picture in Ireland
by Laura Potts

In the beginning was the bird on the hinge of spring,
and the misting flocks on the knoll’s wet chin
fled from the fox with his shot and gun. It was morning:
we sang up the sun with the Sunday hum-and-hymn

of Mam chiming down that patchwork land. Through
the nocturne town and far, past the blackthorn bowed to
prayer and vows that wilted in the air, the city threw
its lights on you. In the darkest heart of Belfast it was 1972.

That dawn of last and longest death, we woke the eyelid
of the day and laid the dark to rest. I remember, kid, the wind
blew like a passing breath and in that way it always did
the forest sang beneath your step. And in the sooner-far ahead,

the meadows fled away from where the dark things slept.
With Dad’s flat cap upon your head, coughing back a cigarette
whose end you never met, you ran a mile electric with the planets
in your eyes. You drew the bows of playground boys while I, yes,

the star that fell behind, shook and sweated lemons at the sin
of passing church. You never cared for that. You never tipped
your hat. You laughed and cursed and spat the cleric’s
sermons to the last, and that was that. Always just good craic.

But at the blast, beneath the drums of Carthage all the stars
unhinged and fled. And you, kid, who leapt the fire-heart ahead
left only scraps of wind to gasp the passing of your death.
For in your last and loudest steps the decades fled beneath your legs

and past the chapel-arch ahead, a diadem upon your head,
you raised a weeping rag and red. You warned the living of the dead.
And said that prayer you’d never said, but it was lost instead.
And in those gobbet-drops of flesh wept Our Lady overhead.

I waved and mouthed a broken vowel which you would never see.
And saw you in the longest light, where you will always be.

by Maya Horton

Here is Arcturus above us, soft as the sea under mist.
Twilight is gathered in branches that twist our dreams. Listen, watch –
the skies are silent. Patterned haze. Violet shadows stray
along the cliffside’s quiet bays. Waves resist your charms: I wouldn’t.
Gazing away to pale grey eyes, I’m wistfully wasting the
days, just to find some secret way to say what I must not.

Graceless Gravity
After Simone Weil
by Maya Horton

Let’s get this straight: I am damaged and broken and
you’re kind and gentle – I trust you more than anyone
and if I could, I’d lay your head against my shoulder,
running my fingers through your hair, listening to you
breathe, and so forth. But though I know your voice in a
crowd and can always hear the creak of your tread in

the hall without lifting my head, I am trying not to go
down that road. A wise woman once wrote something
about imagination, and the corrupting influence of
daydreaming; I mean if we spend all our time imagining
perfect love we aren’t spending that time experiencing
our perfect pain and so we lose its lessons, we waste

the grace of self-connection, of spotless purification
welling up from the fountain of long-buried sorrow.
And I’ve been, y’know, alone for a very long time. I
don’t think I’ve really felt it. There’s always someone
like you to adore: honest, sweet and smart; in whom
I could construct all the things that might fix me and

heal my eggshell soul and so on. I could honestly love you,
if the world were shaped that way. I mean, I really could.
But this is gravity and sorrow is gravity and imagination
is longing and longing is gravity and even this spinning
isn’t truly spinning. It’s performative. If grace should exist
then it is solar, weightless, golden. A different pace of love.

by Maya Horton

I think of pines under Northern skies, needles grazing Orion
or I imagine dry, high, dusty deserts under stars I’ll never see

(but you have), and as I do, my heart gets all spun up in silk,
gilt spider-grey, entangled with skeins of softest kindness, with a

hundred hidden halves of me I want to share with you but can’t.
And somewhere deep in the ocean there are things that glow

under the greatest pressure, thriving in near-zero dark, creating
a light of their own. They create their own light – noctilucent,

like the last midnight embers. Or glow-worms under spider-silk.
See, each thought brings me back to you, of how soft I could be

just stroking your hair in the moon’s quarter-silver. I know
somewhere far, far, far away are much-loved pines fracturing

starlight and beneath them all are spinning spiders, making
webs that warp light and shine ultraviolet, in strong strands

to wrap and capture Lampyrids’ light. Luciferase gutters out.
The woods fall still. Now the stars, too, become shrouded, in

their way; warm sparks of secret glances, extinguished forever.
The tender silk we wove is lost. I watch it, broken, blow away.

When The Music Stops
By Paul Waring

Some days the boy I believe I was
arrives at my grandparent’s house,
skip-step pattern of pavement feet,
drum roll expectancy inside his coat.

Past creaking cough of gate, soft
breath of fine-necked daffodils
and ginger Granville purring
in pole position on the window sill.

Grandma extends apron-dried hands
to lift me door-top high, plants
a ciggie-scented kiss and offers treats
from her beating heart of kitchen:

orange squash, wafer biscuit, one last
finger in the mixing bowl. In the shed
Grandad, hunched over his workbench,
whistles and waits to ruffle and hug.

On other days the young man
I came to be watches you, within months
of each other, slip away into silence,
long before everything has been said.

And the man I am today still follows
in the car behind to say goodbye,
after the music ended like a favourite
record; always too soon.

by Rob Walton

My partner screams
It’s me or that Joni Mitchell album.

I help with the packing.

Taking the temperature

It took me a while but then I got it.
It was some certain run of notes
that made it all clear.

When you played A Love Supreme
in the car you didn’t care
about going forward.

It was meandering
and you could take it
or leave it.

But when you played  Kind of Blue
it was pedal-to-the-metal
and I knew we’d end up staying at your place.

You said you’d looked out
of the window to see Miles
rushing into the chip shop.

Coltrane was trying to rescue
some over-cooked rice.

Elsewhere Stan Getz was steeping some peas.

for Alix
by David O’Hanlon

You sit upon a wicker swing
suspended from the ceiling

in the corner of a bar above
the market we buy cupcakes from

to keep our sugar levels up
while getting our tattoos of ampersands

and astronauts and other images
from poems and songs we introduce

each other to
in the messages we send each day

as though I need to know
what time you go to bed

or you that I had toast
and watched that film The Orphanage

where there’s more horror in
the truth than in the ghosts

but neither one of us believes in
either one of those

which is why
as nights grow longer

we’re not sure why it is that we’re afraid
or why it is that we’re alone

so we endure until the weekend
and the bar above the market

and this wicker chair on which
I watch you swing your heart out.

Previously published by The Fat Damsel

(The labyrinths
formed by time
from ‘And After’, Federico García Lorca)
by Jackie Biggs

Sun on the river
lovers sit on the wall

…………….(boats row by, turn
…………….and go back again)

waves slap on the wall
lovers laugh together

…………….(across the river the cafes
…………….are opening)

songs in the air
lovers kiss on the strand

moon on the river
lovers embrace under the bridge

…………….(across the river the cafes
…………….are closing)

boys play guitars under trees
lovers dance beneath stars

Rest in the arms
the weight we carry

is love
(from Song, by Allen Ginsberg)
by Jackie Biggs

I remember the hard muscles
of your thighs
across mine,
your arm heavy on my breasts.

I am pinned
by you,
a little afraid
of your bulk on me

but as I lie here
hardly able to breathe
I don’t want
you to move.

I am comforted by this load
this holding
that I thought would never be again.

While our warm bodies cool,
…………….by a dragging duvet

I watch moon patterns
on the wall
…………….striped shadows of blinds

and I think of Ginsberg –
…………….the weight of the world
…………………………………….is love

and as I know I won’t sleep yet
……………..I try
to recall more words
 …………….the burden of life
  ………………………….is love

I hear the steadiness of your breath
as you sleep on me

…………… in the arms
……………………………..of love

I see you
by Jackie Biggs

violin notes drift over summer dew
larks rise over yellow meadows,  I see you

where I swim naked in cool lakes   float free
feel fresh water on my skin, I see you

watch buzzards soar up into the far blue
turn to climb ever higher, I see you

where trees stand tall and fresh leaves tremble
in a gentle   warm spring wind,  I see you

where the stream courses down the mountain and
water falls over a cliff, I see you

look up in the quiet of midnight to
full moon and countless stars, I see you

when silk shivers on skin in chill of dawn
as my mind rises from dreams, I see you

where rose perfume whispers as sun rises
water silvers in the glass, I see you

in the outlines of trees traced on pale walls
where curtains drift in the breeze, I see you

in the morning when I study your face
sun and shadows play on us, and I see you.

Sea song
by Megan Pattie

Cast my ash into the sea.
When I move there will be
still some sound.

I want to exist as song,
return as a tune.
Becoming music

I may make
a parting kiss last
a tree’s growth

and be always arriving
to your smile, an echo
dwelling in your heart,

a tender beat
almost touching the realm
where I am.

The essential Alan Parsons
by Ian Waugh

To him
The fact that they both liked Alan Parsons
……….(a not unknown but not mainstream, either, rock music producer)
Proved beyond any doubt that
………..(personal physical differences apart)
They were meant for each other.

They could talk at length about the Project albums and how “themed” they were,
Perhaps allowing him to comment on the fineness of her hair
…………(stroking gently with the backs of his fingers)
And suggest, in a clever and witty way,
How her hair would make an ideal subject for a concept album.

And perhaps
She would see past his thin, lank hair
Into his sincerity and longing,
Hoping that, at the same time,
He did not appear too eager.

And perhaps
He could guide her gently to the table
……….(placing his hand ever so softly in the small of her back
……….perhaps just half-touching, half circling her waist)
While discussing the abandoned European Tour
And the negative effect it had on fans, particularly in Germany.

And perhaps
She would see past his short and stocky frame
Into his sincerity and longing
Hoping that, at the same time,
He did not appear too eager.

And perhaps
He could offer to lend her his copy of Keats
…………(not strictly an Alan Parsons album but one
…………created by members of the Alan Parsons Project
…………Yet still arranged and engineered by Alan Parsons
…………and very much in the Alan Parsons style
…………But not a well-known album and not one usually
…………associated with Alan Parsons
…………But a terrific album and one he’s sure she’d love).
He could bring it around, casually, tomorrow night, say.

And perhaps
She’d invite him in for coffee and they could listen to it together
And he could comment knowledgeably on Colin Blunstone’s soaring vocals
And perhaps
While offering to help her wash the coffee cups
They might meet at the kitchen door
And he would look into her beautiful, forgiving eyes.

And perhaps
She would see past his pale and poor skin
Into his sincerity and longing
Hoping that, at the same time,
He did not appear too eager.

And perhaps
She would place her hand on his arm
And draw him close
…………(her scent)
Her lips brushing his cheek
And whisper
That she had never
Met anyone
Who knew
So much
Alan Parsons…

Ten minutes into the evening
As she deftly flicked her shiny supasilk hair out of the path of a pudgy hand
She wished she had never heard of Alan Bloody Parsons.

After Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) of Elgar’s Enigma Variations
by Mantz Yorke

The thrumming on the timpani reminds me
of separation – you, like Mary Lygon,
sailing to Australia; I, easing towards domesticity
and teaching chemistry in school. It brings back,
with perfume’s suddenness, our late night

walk on the Lickey Hills with the lights below
stretching to the city, as if tempting me to enjoy
all that it could give. Later, we were transported
through empty Birmingham streets to your gate,
lingering conversation and a chaste goodnight.

I remember, too, the morning after the party
at your family’s farm: two couples, revived
from bleariness by the December fog, excited
molecules dividing and recombining, larking
along the road, disconnected from the world.

I take out again that newspaper photograph –
you on the fountain’s edge in Victoria Square,
your short nightie an attraction in rag-week:
I ponder anew the balancing of hurt and risk,
the path not taken, what might have been.

Originally published as Enigma Variation XIII (Romanza: Moderato) in Long Exposure Magazine, Issue 1

St Anthony’s Head
by Mantz Yorke

Brahms’ graceful siciliana, like her perfume,
takes me back to that calm June evening
and an arpeggio of pines scraggily stark
against an orange sky. All sunny afternoon
we’d lain in Elwinnick Cove, invisible to ramblers
on the cliff-top path and oblivious to the tide’s
surreptitious return. The splashed rocks,
slippery with weed, cut off the way we’d come:
escape lay up the cove’s steep slope, grabbing
grass against a glissando to the sand below.

Half a century has passed. Alone,
I look back across the headland, pondering
how long we could have expected to survive,
with the fiery sunset witness to an atmosphere
poisoned by mushrooms’ spores. Today, cinders:
a depression is approaching from the west,
setting the trees against its darkening grey.
Time to be going home: rain is on its way.

Originally published in Cyclamens and Swords, 2015

Ooh it stings
by Donald Jenkins

I ran outside with honey on my arms
my lifetime ambition fulfilled
the pulsating flesh, and the swarm
nestled into every crevice
of my torso, providing enough pricks.

Thou shalt not kill- Exodus 20:13
by Donald Jenkins

I’ve ‘killed’ many dance floors. In all senses of the word. Actually maybe just two. I haven’t gone on a spree to bludgeon a bunch of ravers to death or pumped out cyanide through the nightclub smoke machine. In one way I mean in the positive sense- ‘I’ve killed it’ like bad meaning good and sick meaning- well, quite the opposite.

From my first set of belt drives, I thought D.J-ing was my calling. Obsessing over the intricacies of grooved polyvinyl chloride turned into an addiction. A £200 a month habit, jacking up with the needle of my Technics tonearm. I bought so much, my dealer would sometimes lay me on with credit. He knew I was good for it. I spent decades sifting through crates, sampling different varieties as my tastes grew. Hip Hop, hardcore, oldskool, techno, funk- as long as it was Hi-grade I was buying. And my pusher was good. He knew how to entice me with the latest 12”, an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Oh and the sensation! Piercing the skin. Breaking the seal. Opening the outer plastic of the vinyl was like unwrapping Xmas presents as a child all over again. Pulling out the dust cover from the sleeve, being dazzled by the gloss of the artwork. The air scented with the factory freshness of newly pressed wax. Salivating at the prospect of an on-cumming ear-gasm I’d slap my fetish on the platter. Stylus across, penetrate the groove. The crackle and boom! The question on my lips would be ‘does it deliver?’ Lifting the needle to have a stab at different parts of the track I’d skip through the record with the sensation span of a premature ejaculation. But if I Iiked what I heard -I would just let it spin, headphones in, reveling in the rotation of the sublime.

I tried to moderate my compulsion, but even a quick visit to my supplier would leave my pockets bare. Eventually, I had to go to cold turkey banning myself from all record shops. I just couldn’t trust myself. I had a kid to feed and a mortgage I’d already defaulted on.

……….– Maybe its time to grow up?

My first act of killing took place back when I was wrist deep in my dependency. I D.J’d a lot of nightspots on different nights of the week. Playing everywhere from the sticky floors of commercial nightlife to dingy underground basements, with crusties in the corner, smoking spliffs on the sly. I did it for the money, sometimes, but mainly just for the love. I reveled in playing niche sounds, serving up the underbelly of music with a staunch sense of superiority.

……….– This is what you should be listening to…

It didn’t always work as I lived in a cultural armpit of a city. Certain sounds took a while to take off.

But when they did I stood over my weaponry like an efficient executioner taking pride in his work. People roaring with insanity with wailing hair, the dance floor hanging on every groove, raring to go all the way to the brutal crescendo.

Sweaty White deadlocked man say, “That’s the best set I’ve heard. You killed it”.

Nodding my head with the prowess of an unashamed murderer, I replied. “Cheers man”.

I’m not sure he was reliable source though. He wasn’t in a fit state to effectively review music standards with an ecstasy riddled jaw attempting to make contact with his own eye socket.

Negatively ‘killing it’ is never such a ceremonious occasion. Playing the wrong pop records for the wrong pop crowd always resulted in instant reprisals.

“What the fucks this shit?”

“ Play some proper tunes DJ.”

“Turn this shit off!”

I learned overindulging a crowd with 80’s hits when most of them hadn’t even been conceived by that decade was a no-go zone. Or being too busy twiddling nobs and faders that I’d failed to notice I was playing to an empty echo chamber. You just don’t wanna go there! I knew my time had come when all the women had retreated to the bar for a round of Blue WKD in disgust.

It’s not just dance floors I’ve massacred, but also the means of production. I was escorted from the premises after blowing up a sound system by playing ‘Hi Ho Silver’ by Jim Diamond at screechingly high volumes. The recoil of tinnitus experienced by all in attendance resulted in one punter physically setting about me in vengeance. I righteously screamed injustices as I was dragged down the back stairs by a troop of doormen and toe punted me into the night.

Music consumer
by Donald Jenkins

I’m a music consumer, not a music producer,
Seduced by the beats like the snakes of Medusa,
Slithering, sliding, the music I move-ta,
Rattling rhythms, the music I groove-ta,
Every occasion a sound that specifically suits-tha.

Situation is right, got to be in the mood-fa,
A soundtrack to life significantly improves tha,
Uplifting with soul, tha silky sounds soothes-ya,
I live in the old-skool, but I look to the future.
I’m loving the sass of the horns and the tuba,
Dan gan skanking to reggae from Kingston and Cuba,
but go bonkers for beats made by a computer.

I’m a junkie for vinyl, I download from the router,
I’m the randomly sampling, streaming You-Tuber.
Track marks in my ears, jackin’ music abuser,
I’m cranking it loud and my neighbours disprove-ah.
The bass in their face and I’m raising the roof-a.
Turn down the top end and bring up the subwoofers,
‘Cos I’m right into to rave with the horns and the Hoovers.

My spines all aflutter with the synths from the future,
I’m spiritually touched my music’s my Buddha,
Techno is tantric, my moves Karma Sutra.
I’m following leads, I’m checking out rumours
I go digging for gems, in hot pursuit of tha,
The latest releases, I regularly review tha.

The Tracks that are standard, the tunes that are super,
That I’m rewinding, reloading stuck in the loop-wa,
The heaviest basslines that makes me go ‘Ooh ya!’
The loveliest lyrics that lock me right into tha.

Sid Barrett – take me away Dark side of the moon-a,
Just singing the blues with John Lee Hooker,
Just jumping to jungle with Super Sharp Shooter,
My guiltiest pleasure, Satellite by The Hooters,
Brightman Fell in love with a starship trooper.

I’m a studious student and music’s my tutor,
Made music my life since I was a youth-a.
I want to make music my wife, I am its suitor.
I’m a music consumer, not a music producer.

Your music is too much for me
by Jean Morris

Oh, you are a mad genius insect! Viol and bow
are your wings. Your body clings to them vibrating.
The sound is sweet, alluring, almost too intense.
Maybe I am too old for this, cannot contain you.

My left hand clutches my right, bum hurting
on the hard chair. Every note holds a deep insistence
on sensation I no longer look for. Forgotten,
broken emotions have begun to gather in my belly.

Pain and pleasure rise, resolve. Old melodies
plucked and pulled from measured dance catch fire,
burn low, and then again, again, flouting the chill
of a January afternoon. Has this been just one hour?

The pattern of bare branches in the high window
has disappeared. Shivering, I know that we did fly.

Shades of gold
by Reuben Woolley


on this old blue rock

they try a different
tune / a long note
to catch the marrow

hey listen a
stretch to hit
the orbit
………………..just so / unmuted
colour me storm &
all the space

they come hectic they come
glory in

me a song from spain
mr davis
& a shining horn

by Mandy Macdonald

naturally, you might expect
the world to forget all about us as we ride on the straight fen road out of town
past the last houses sliced off like a yard of patterned cloth
by the city boundary and the nearly unconquerable wheat

importunate summer’s coda blowing the cloud castles away
unclothing this tawny field arched perfectly against
sky, yesterday, and
this evening shorn and ploughed

and when i am sitting alone on a shiny morning after rain with my body strange
and empty of you and the room full of light and this Mozart on the radio
having loved you here and in other places to this and other music

i see us from all sides at once as my arms have held you in their calm circle
a storm’s perfect eye

by Mandy Macdonald

the way it is when
we sing together
you ginger, me fred
i’ve never recovered from
that first duet

The melodeon player
by Rebecca Gethin

holding something very like his heart between his hands,
widens out its pleated core to full stretch,
kneads it back together, pushing against its breath,
pressing out the notes his fingers know by instinct
as his head bends low to listen
how its tone pumps through his ribcage.

Double bass
by Rebecca Gethin

A tree
of an instrument.
Once you heard
wind blow
through your leaves,
stretched your roots
through the soil.

You, who were once
are now
Inside, you are
nothing –
a gust –
the ore of air.
Your hollow
is on the point
of bursting
into plenitude.
Your cavity
is filled with so much longing,
a temple stillness,
that if I bang
the door,
step heavily
across the floor
you resound.
A gasp that doesn’t need
as if your voice
was drawn up
from out of the earth
through the ghosts
of tap roots.

To make your notes
you feed on air.
and they rise from out
of your throat of darkness.

The hard way
by Rebecca Grethin

The double bass was not an instrument that suited
my small frame: too tall, too heavy, too deep;
I couldn’t hide behind the thump of its gut strings.

I never owned my own, could barely carry it to and fro.
I had to stretch myself up to play it as if it were a tree I climbed,
losing myself in the twigs of its tuning.

The great back lay against me – its weight and curves,
its inner emptiness. With my left hand mousing along
the fingerboard, my right elbow a fulcrum for the bow,

the sounding-hollow sang deep through my knees,
radiating up into my sternum, neck and skull:
creatures of each other, I felt our frequencies.

On the last day
by Cath Campbell

On the last day I shall not whitewash my windows,
or get behind the mattress and hide under the stairs.
I shall not become angry, or sad, or fall to despair.

I’ll play Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen endlessly
and upset the neighbours one last time for free.
I’ll sit in the garden with my wee dog, counting daisies.
I’ll say goodbye to sparrows and blackbirds with seeds.
I’ll eat black olives, and home made bread with cheese,
and sip from a china cup the very best Yorkshire tea,
and, perhaps, have a slice of blackberry pie with cream.
What I won’t do is worry about the state of my health,
the leckie bill, overdraft, or how to increase my wealth.

I shall not waste time whitewashing the windows,
plumping the mattress, cowering under the stairs.
I shall not become angry, or sad, or fall to despair.

Music Duet
by Cath Campbell

Let me strum your strings
and caress along the lines.
You’re a curvy gal,
smooth as molasses.
I will ripple run your drum
and tenderly kiss your neck.
Let us make a symphony,
a song of love, my beauty.

Mais non. I do not feel eet.
I am maestro, sausage feengers.
Ma coeur ees non pour vous!
I ees une independent femme,
full of feu and grand amour.
Ecoutez, fou! Allez vous en!
Vous, vous nerdy ugly merdy!
I ees for un ‘andsome homme.

(Never going) back again
by Joe Williams

She likes this one.
I can see it’s perked her up.
She was bored at the bar
on a Monday afternoon,
but now she’s dancing.
She doesn’t need to use her feet,
just hips, shoulders,
and a smile.

If it was later I might tell her
I prefer Peter Green
to Lindsey Buckingham,
but I’m still sober enough
to know better.

Instead I say
I’ll have another pint,
though she’s already pulling it
before I’ve asked.

I’ll tell her some day,
but not today.
I’d only spoil her mood.

Friday night with Rachmaninov
by Hilary Robinson

Friday night with you in our living room
listening to Rachmaninov, the LP
you ordered from Golden Disc in the Arcade.

………….Place it like a rare gift
………….on the turntable, lower
………….the arm and drop the stylus
………….gentle as a snowflake.

Play the third movement again before mum and dad come home,
another glass of Corona orangeade
holding hands on the Ercol sofa.

………….Listen to the longing in those chords,
………….the aching of the strings —
………….how can black dots on lines
………….move us to tears?

Final movement. Maybe they’ve stopped
for chips. Maybe dad’s parked
the new Cortina and they’re gazing at the stars.

………….Let’s hear that part again.
………….Put it on repeat until
.…………the needle’s tattooed it on us.
………….Let’s wear Rachmaninov out.

Goodbye blackberry lane
by Hilary Robinson

February. Snow drifts across the drive.
I’m on my doorstep,
brown cord cap over my curls,
mustard coat keeping me warm.
Back before eleven like
the good girl that I am.

Home…the song he sang
as he saw me onto the bus
plays in my head but I don’t
hear the words, just the way
he’d swapped Blackberry for the name
I haven’t used for forty-odd years.

Now I Google the song
and read about The Move,
see the words sad,
trapped and notice the clues.
By summer we were over,
moved on like Roy Wood.

On Burns Night
for Julia Thomas
by Susan Taylor

A friend pours me out a song I know well.

Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns
Bring autumn’s pleasant weather,

The high notes take me up into flurries of weeping.

The moorcock springs on whirring wings
Among the blooming heather.

Such things I love are loaded in these words,

Now waving grain, wide o’er the plain
Delights the weary farmer

the many harvests spent outdoors, gathering in the grain.

And the moon shines bright, when I rove at night
To muse upon my charmer.

My path, intense with joy and sorrow, has a way with me.

Come let us stray our gladsome way
And view the charms of Nature,

My friend’s voice, pure and fluting, is a light in the clouds.

The rustling corn, the fruited thorn
And every happy creature.


Couplets in italics are quotes from ‘Westlin Winds’ by Robert Burns

Having sailed out to kiss the Blarney Stone
by Susan Taylor

my father always sang me Irish songs and, sometimes,
so did she and one day, when her powers to hold
a secret waned, she lifted up the back of her tweed skirt;
the way she always did to warm herself before the fire
and hinted how they made out in the music of those
dozen Januarys ago, in an hour they didn’t mean to,

but they did make me.

Previously published in A Small Wave For Your Form (Oversteps Books)

by Susan Taylor

We shelter from diagonals of rain.
Our jobs become a lifestyle we can’t support.
We show couples the polished floor in the barn,
and it vibrates with the feel of naked feet.
Our children learnt to walk here
and to dance to our jangling grand piano.

Outside a chaffinch shouts cha-cha!
The cage of beams we’re under holds sound.
This wood is heartwood.
For better or worse, our rings of life
grow out from this place.

We are caught behind the rains’s lines.

Previously published in Rose Rent Turret Books

Bearing the bell
for Dave Hewitt
by Susan Taylor

We remember
the notes
of his psaltery;

……….their purity
……….like the song
……….of a robin

or song thrush.
The hush
sweeping around us

……….is a lack
………/of his music.
……….A single bell

on a Morris dancer
parting the silence

………,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,we hold for him
………,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,in the crematorium.
..,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Surrounding air

is soft, after
the violent strikes
of summer storm.

…………….He asked for
…………….no black, so
…………….we sent him off

…………………………in dazzling jay and
…………………………redbreast coloured

tears overrun
by the sound of teams
in Morris bells.

Previously published in The Suspension of The Moon, Oversteps Books

by Rachel Burns

No this poem is not going to plan
it has a life of its own.
You say get off your phone.
We listen to Spotify
songs about love and relationships
gone sour. You read the map planning
tomorrow’s route. I tap out this poem
to The Black Keys, The Weight of Love

Wail, baby, wail
by Roy Moller

Set the stage in a black cathedral,
line a few pews with acquired family
in twinsets and cardies and waistcoats with watches.
Dr Harry Whitley receives me as a parcel
delivered for dooking, eleventh months of gurgle.
Invisible beyond us, Dr Herrick Bunney
sits at the organ, pulling out some stops.

My pink head reddens:
my debut performance
is set to test this congregated love.
My debut performance
could shatter glass in horn rims,
blast out the Great West Window,
disintegrate the High Kirk
into kingdom come.

Satellite’s gone (Intercession with Lou Reed)
by Roy Moller

For those with broken hearts and funny false starts
Lou, hear us, Lou, graciously hear us
For pensioners abandoned in corporate surroundings
Lou, hear us, Lou, graciously hear us
For sailors whose clipper ships are fevered and crusted
Lou, hear us, Lou, graciously hear us
When thoughts are water and mouths taste of copper
Lou, hear us, Lou, graciously hear us
For each life lined with layers of fuck-ups
Lou, hear us, Lou, graciously hear us
For those of us gimps in dungeons of doubting
flayed by whips of what-if, if only
Lou, deliver The Glory of Love.

by Roy Moller

In 1970,
we three stood aft of the buff funnel,
the ship’s band played The Dark Island.
I found a moment of spray and contentment,
accordion rolling with the swell of the vessel.

So much hard air
has barrelled through woodland,
so much love slid down the slipway,
so many melodies, countless tides
have expanded and contracted
since then.

Ian Curtis
by Roy Moller

My love, it’s Ian Curtis walking with me,
Ian Curtis who dances under towers
stretching over strip-lit trenches.
My love, it’s Ian Curtis standing with me
drenched by godless glare and fluorescence.
My love, it’s Ian Curtis walking into nothing
as chords decay around a grand piano.
Lover, Ian Curtis will nourish me forever
with bread as white as the dead of night.

Music music music
by Rosemary McLeish

When I was seventeen
I swooned at Bobby Vee,
and never minded teasing.

I thought Jimi Hendrix
was some kind of Mozart,
but almost before I noticed,
he was gone.

I got a crush on Tammy Wynette,
imagining she was ironic, witty, subtle:
dressing like a drag queen, sounding
like a fan of Fascinating Womanhood,
laughing all the way to the bank.

I suppose I took a left-hand turn
after the eruption on the scene
of Sid Vicious and all those
shouting, hullabalooing,
charmless boys of punk,

to be wooed by the likes of Townes,
and Steve, and good ole Willy,
crying after midnight in a haze
of booze and troubadour blues.

Dan Hicks got me pretty hot
under the collar, and as for Tom Waits,
whoo-hoo, pour me a whisky,
walk me Spanish down the hall.

A thousand voices, a thousand guitars,
beautiful faces, heartbreaking words,
the glamour of gigs and clubs
defining a moment, a mood,
a hook-up, a feeling, a bond …

but all the time, all the time –
in the background or the foreground,
from a CD or an orchestra,
in my head or on a violin,
a threesome or a foursome,
or even a knock-your-socks-off fivesome,
a person singing by a piano,
or a pianist in a concert hall
dropping single notes into a pin-drop silence –
my true pin-up idol, the one
who entranced me when
I was knee-high to a piano-leg,
Franz Josef Schubert
singing his melodies,
shaking those rhythms,
rocking those key changes,
has his effortless way with my heart.

by Pat Edwards

Any love is only ever an experiment.
Each is tested time and again,
never knowing are we the control
or the real thing.

Sometimes there is a chain reaction,
setting off sprees of atomic kisses,
bleeding in the agar plates
between our sighs.

An acid love will turn blue litmus
red; flushed cheeks soon realise
their mistake. And we all know
real love is never neutral

but always one thing or another.
The best love establishes new
theorem wins prizes, coats us
with benign fall-out and sticks.

Sea song
by Lynn Valentine

For those that know how to look,
find a pale petal in amongst the grass.
Hold it up against the ripening rain
for loves’ future, here and past.

Like sea glass washed by tides,
each molten drop a scour
of blasted sand.
A green-eye watchful for the waves,
a breath.
The in and out of gravity.

Sunday mornings
For Simon Callow

by Raine Geoghegan

He plays for me on Sunday mornings,
his own compositions.
His shoulders rise and fall as he
deftly runs his fingers across the keys.

My body sways tentatively,
drinking in the melody.
It falls into discordant notes,
a painter venturing into dark shadows.

I am cloth, unravelling.
Like a dervish,
I whirl, my heart opens as
the music builds into a crescendo.

A sweet essence flows back into my blood,
as if it were remembering the warmth of youth,
of wellness.
Of being in the sun.

Previously published on the website, The Poetry Drawer

Big Maceo Merriweather
by Julian Isaacs

There’s many a day
I wish I was called
Big Maceo Merriweather
Which is an even better name than
Blind Lemon Jefferson,
Which is itself not half bad,
Referencing as it does
Disability theory, citrus and American history
(Though not practical math)

Anyway, as I say,
There’s many a day
I wish I was called
Big Maceo Merriweather
Bigger than his piano
Larger than his frame
With a left hand that thrilled
And a right hand that trilled
And a girlfriend that killed
Shuffling the blues through his suit like a poker deck
Driving that train North from cotton to steel

There’s many a day
I wish I was called
Big Maceo Merriweather
But rarely a day
When I wish I was
Big Maceo Merriweather
Having left the hickory wind far behind
He must have stretched his suit to the tether
In that most unmerry weather
Trying to shield himself
From the icy wind
Off the Great Lake
That blew his blue
Behind twelve prison bars

And I thought I’d had a worried life!

Trumpet solo
by Alwyn Marriage

It starts in burgundy, as soft
as moss, or the first glimpse
of someone you half recognise
emerging from the mist

turns to pink as newborn
puppies nuzzle, tumble
round and over one another,
intertwine then separate

pink merges into brown
as sadness creeps along the line
of sound, suggesting that we never
stand on solid ground

then sorrow fades as yellow
sunshine splashes light
on darkness, deepens, brightens
clarifies our sight

so that life seems less complicated,
and those rare splashes of pure joy
might somehow leak across the picture
and become the norm.

Sharpening into scarlet
the tune floats high above
our heads, in colours we
have never seen before

it stands on tiptoe reaching up
towards a clear blue sky, while I
grow warm, and sharp appreciation
prickles down my spine.

Make music
by Alwyn Marriage

Take a deep breath, picture rich velvet, pitch
and project your voice out to the stars. You know
it’s good for you, it makes you stand up straighter,
fills your lungs and expands the muscles of your heart.

Sing whatever takes your fancy, pop songs,
folk songs, nursery rhymes or hymns,
it really doesn’t matter what the tune is
as long as you sing something every day.

If you wake up feeling glum, sit up in bed
and trill a love song to the recumbent form
beside you. If this is not appreciated
wait until you’re in the shower,

then bellow arias and cadenzas to the steam,
or practise the subtler art of Mongolian two-tone
chanting — a technique that always seems to be
enhanced by water vapour. You’ll emerge much happier.

I wouldn’t recommend you make a profession of singing,
with all the dreary slog and scales; but experiment
with melody and harmony and throw your voice out
till it blends mysteriously with the music of the spheres.

If you can whistle, keep up a steady flow
of merry music. Squeeze your lips
together, blow a tune – it doesn’t work
for me, but if you’re lucky maybe it will for you.

Learn an instrument, however old you are,
the difficulty and discipline will sharpen
your flabby brain, and excite you even if
that pleasure isn’t shared by those who hear.

Make music with your vocal chords, your lips,
your fingers, your whole body; yes, even you
can make music with your body if you dance
whenever and wherever you find yourself.

You may not be a Nureyev, but at the very least
dancing will make you (and maybe others) laugh
and laughter as you know, like music,
helps to make the world go round.

This world is sometimes hard and cruel,
but with music, happiness is never far away
and you can make life better for yourself
and others if you sing and dance and play.

Primrose time
by Alwyn Marriage

I wake, your left hand
cupped round my right breast,
your breath stroking my cheek

it’s primrose time
yellow sunshine
seeps under my eyelids
finds a smile
and plants it gently
on your lips.

Water music
by Alwyn Marriage

A woman is humming Mozart
in the shower, the splashes
and gushing water woven with
a familiar aria from the Magic Flute.

Her bubble of melody floats up, then bursts
into a sudden silence. Has she forgotten
what notes come next, or has her attention
wandered onto more prosaic matters?

But no, here comes the tune again,
picked up effortlessly in the key
and at the point she would have reached
if she had gone on singing.

Clearly the music continued unabated
internalised while she bent down to soap
her toes, the same song flowing
in and out between her mind and lips.

Is this what happened to Ophelia
when she scattered snatches of old songs?
And as she sang her last and sank to watery death,
did the music travel with her to the other side?

1st published in Broadsheet, 2016

Interrupted Cadence
L von B
by Alwyn Marriage

Music was his love, his life, his language
of communication with the world
as he heard a young girl singing
or a brass band passing by.

On his walks he noticed and recorded
the minute details of a pastoral scene:
a rippling brook and bird song,
or wind soughing in the trees.

When that was gone, he still composed
the heavenly music he could no longer hear;
watched others listen to his works in rapt attention,
rise at their conclusion to applaud.

The notes continued flowing from his pen,
a stream of sound he’d never hear again.
No wonder that he flew into a rage,
crashed the keyboard, sank into despair.

The cadence of his life was interrupted,
changed permanently into a minor key;
but his yearning blessed us with an ode to joy
resolving torment into plagal’s soft amen.

Five poems from “The Olive Box”
by J.A. Sutherland

Olivia’s Violin

Her viola was her best friend,
but the violin, her lover.

Even warming-up, she’d make it crackle;
arpeggios would dance and sparkle
and scales sent fireworks from the bow
while I would sit, redundant as an old flame
or an extinguished candle.

My heart would dance to hear her Czardas;
The Kreuzer nearly crucified me,
and the Bruch I could barely handle.
A quartet I could cope with well,
and quintets – Schubert’s Die Forelle.
Anything with two violas was no trouble.

But I couldn’t hack watching her duet,
especially the ‘Bach Double.’
Both violinists swooned and swooped,
swapping melodies like sexual favours;
a passionate embrace, a kiss, flirtatious
harmonies and casual conversations.

I swore she was in love with him
and not seducing that beloved violin.

I Love You

after you’ve been playing
I kiss the calloused pads
as you put down your violin –
still humming with
whatever music filled the room:
partitas, a sonata, an étude.

Excluded from this
world, I soak up every last
vibration from your bow.
I take a cold, wet cloth,
hold it to the red mark on your chin
while you emerge.
We hold each other, wordless.

It is that space between music
and speech that seems
more sacred, unanswerable
as the tingle of current that sends,
like some celestial fire,
three magic words
through fibre-optic wire.

Faintheart in a Phone-box

…………….I should have kissed her if the rain
…………….Had lasted a minute more.
………………………………………………………….– Thomas Hardy

We took shelter in a phone-booth; all four:
you, me, your luggage, and your violin.
‘Won’t last,’ you claimed: ‘A quick downpour.’
I remembered Thomas Hardy half-regretting that
the rain had failed to last a minute more.
And then I kissed you, before it was too late,
to show I loved you, and put the poet straight.

Outside, with the rain, the sky grew dour.
A flash, and then a thunder-clap; we kissed again,
basking in the sky’s electrified applause.
Interrupted by that most intrusive of devices,
the phone began to ring. We laughed. But I saw
a cloud of deep concern pass over. An emergency?
You answered it, explaining helpfully:

‘Wrong number; did you mis-dial; are you sure?’
Another flash. I wondered, was this a bad idea
as water began to seep in under the door.
You hung up, picked up your violin, clutching it
like a hot-water-bottle. A puddle crept along the floor;
I lifted your luggage – a leaden-weighted holdall –
wishing, unlike Hardy, that it hadn’t rained at all.

Pigs in Bath

…………..And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
…………..Love itself shall slumber on.
…………………………………………………….– Percy Bysshe Shelley

I indulged Olivia and her suilline adoration,
but we hadn’t been prepared for the profusion
of multi-coloured pigs that greeted us in Bath.
Olivia had been there, many years before,
for one day only, on a Youth-Orchestra tour:
a string of gigs, holed up in student digs,
where you barely get to see beyond the venue.
Olivia couldn’t recollect seeing any pigs then,
although she could recall a pub they drank in
(presumably illegally) called the Pig & Whistle.
Feeling at home, we joined in a pub quiz;
Olivia gently mocked me for being a swot,
revelling in her ignorance. She even got
the music-questions wrong. 1970’s pop
was not her forté. Exasperated with our score,
she joined another group, picking up friends
like infections, leaving me with the pub bore.
Feeling slightly outcast if not quite a leper,
I learned that King Bladud founded the City
of Bath after rolling around in the mud
which cured the pigs – and him – of leprosy.

Olivia took in all the popular tourist spots
while I was browsing second-hand bookshops.
She wouldn’t let me take her to the tea-rooms –
too expensive. I said, my treat, but she refused:
‘I can listen to string trios any time I choose.’
So we ate pigs-in-blankets and drank bubbly
in the hotel room between the sheets, doubly
passionate, made love again then ventured out
into the cooling evening. What’s it all about,
these Pigs in Bath? We walked until we spotted
a sign. Over a hundred, highly decorated, dotted
all around the City, each pig a unique design
with a corny name: Bacon Butty, Globe Trotter,
Ham-Bag, Pigmaleon, Pigsaw, Pigs Will Fly!
Olivia snapped until her memory-card was full.
She asked me what ‘pig-in-a-poke’ meant.
I said: nothing to do with our elopement.
The Pigs in Bath were not a permanent
display. All things that, once, contemporary,
fade away, as present ‘Wow’ turns to ‘Why?’ –
like music, or love, when soft voices die.


There were no phone-boxes in Bremen, but
there were, for some reason, plenty of pigs.
I took you, en route to your next orchestral tour,
to a city of Hanseatic History and musical folklore:
buskers in the Marktplatz and, sculpted in bronze,
the donkey, the dog, the cat and the rooster –
a musical hierarchy of fair-trade campaigners
I thought would appeal to your generous nature.

Drawn, repeatedly, to another sculpture:
the pigs and their herder on the Sögestrasse,
you demanded I took your photograph
with a girl you connected with straight away
despite your total lack of German. You refused
to pose holding onto the musician-donkey’s hocks,
which according to tradition brings a tourist luck;
insisted I translated the words on the carillon clock
while you complained the bells were out of tune;
resisted my suggestion to see the Rhododendrons
in bloom in the park, or the so-called Belle Amour
display of paper lanterns, preferring to visit the Snoor.

All afternoon we trod through the cobbled alleys,
in and out of shops and side-street inglenooks;
you looked for colour picture-opportunities while
I searched for souvenirs; mementos of the fairy-tale
musicians. Instead, I got a little wooden pig
to hide in your violin case – although I never did.
We ate in an un-romantic restaurant where you
attempted to order without a clue about the menu.
I suggested ‘die forelle’ thinking you might get it.
You ordered pork, defiant. I told you you’d regret it.

That evening you said your head was bursting.
I left you in the room, my own head thirsting
for answers, my guts like stone, my fragile heart
as hollow as the gaudy lanterns in the park.
I took photos, but in black and white, until the dark
returned me back to you, now sleeping. On the bed,
a page of a partita lay like a muted excuse that I read
as an ominous reminder of our imminent separation.
Next day, I took you and your violin to the airport,
while I had several hours to kill before my flight.
I went back to the Marktplatz and, in spite of you,
grabbed that donkey by the ankles, wishing it true.


Julia Webb studied creative writing at Norwich University College of the Arts and has an MA in poetry from UEA. She lives in Norwich where she works for Gatehouse Press and is a poetry editor for Lighthouse. Her prose poem ‘Lent’ won the Poetry Society’s Stanza competition in 2011. Her first poetry Collection “Bird Sisters’ was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016. She is currently working on her second collection, which is due for publication in 2019.

Megan Pattie lives on the North East Coast of England. She was a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2009 and her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including SnakeskinThe Fat DamselThe Black Light Engine Room, and The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea. You can find her on Twitter @pattiepoetry.

Mantz Yorke lives in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong.

Pat Edwards is a writer, teacher and performer living in Mid Wales. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including Prole, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Fat Damsel, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Curlew and others. Pat runs Verbatim monthly poetry open mic nights and curates Welshpool Poetry Festival.

Reuben Woolley has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House and Ink Sweat and Tears among others. Published Books: the king is dead, 2014, Oneiros; dying notes, 2015, Erbacce; skins, 2016, Hesterglock; broken stories, 2017, 20/20 Vision Media. Forthcoming, some time we are heroes, The Corrupt Press.  Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and Erbacce Prize, 2015. Editor poetry webzines: I am not a silent poet, The Curly Mind.

Susan Castillo Street has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (2015), and Constellations (2016. Her poetry has appeared in Southern QuarterlyProleThe High WindowInk Sweat & TearsMessages in a BottleThe Missing SlateClear PoetryProle, Three Drops from a CauldronFoliate OakThe LakeAlgebra of Owls,The Yellow Chair ReviewPoetry Shed, and other journals and anthologies.

Paul Waring is a clinical psychologist who once designed menswear and was a singer/songwriter in several Liverpool bands. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and his poems have been published or are forthcoming in Clear Poetry, Prole, Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Three Drops from a Cauldron, The Open Mouse, Riggwelter, Rat’s Ass Review, Reach Poetry, Foxglove Journal and many others. His blog is

Alwyn Marriage’s ten books include poetry, non-fiction and a novel (‘Rapeseed’). She’s widely represented in magazines, anthologies and on-line and gives readings internationally. Formerly a university philosophy lecturer, Director of two international NGOs and a Rockefeller Scholar, she’s currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and a research fellow at Surrey University.

Susan Taylor lives on Dartmoor. As an ex-farmer, she finds the natural rhythms of life in the countryside inspirational. Her latest poetry collection is Temporal Bonesfrom Oversteps Books. A new work, The Weather House, written with poet Simon Williams, appeared recently from Indigo Dreams. Watch out for The Weather House poetry show in 2018!

Donald Jenkins is a writer and performance poet. He is the promoter of Born Lippy, a night that showcases all manifestations of spoken word. As well as writing poems, a screenplay and fiction, Donald is currently working on a creative non-fiction project called ‘ten Rules to be broken’- documenting his life work to break all of the ten commandments.

Jean Morris is a writer, translator and editor living in London. Her poems have been published in the online journals Gnarled Oak andOtata and she is a guest contributor to the poetry blog

Hilary Robinson, from Saddleworth, has been published in The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Avis, Strix, The Morning Star and Riggwelter. Her poetry has been included in several anthologies such as Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018).

Maggie Mackay, a jazz and whisky loving Scot is a recent MA graduate with work in Algebra of Owls, Amaryllis, Atrium, Prole, The Everyday Poet, Southlight and Three Drops Press, and forthcoming in the #MeToo anthology, March 2018. Her poems were nominated for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem and the Pushcart Prize in 2017  and her first pamphlet will be published later this year.

Ian Waugh is a writer, a poet, an improviser and a musician. When he’s not trying to make a living doing any of these things, he sleeps the sleep of the damned.

Roy Moller was born in Edinburgh, of Canadian parentage. He is the Dunbar rep for Tyne & Esk Writers.Once a prolific songwriter, music was his first love and it will be his last, though steam trains run it mighty close.

Simon Williams has eight published collections, his latest being a co-authored pamphlet with Susan Taylor, The Weather House, published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Simon was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet.

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor.  In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World  by Cinnamon Press who also published an earlier collection and two novels.  Poems appear in UK magazines and anthologies.  She runs a Poetry School seminar in Plymouth.

Cath Campbell is a self-taught poet from Northumberland. She began making poetry quite unexpectedly two years ago after the accidental joining of an on-line poetry group. Her work has been published in Erbacce, Obsessed With Pipework, and I Am Not a Silent Poet. She says that she enjoys the practice of poetry, and when the fun stops so will she.
So far it has been a blast.’

Rachel Burns has been widely published in UK literary magazines. She was shortlisted for The Keats- Shelley Adult Prize 2017. Currently, she is an Arvon/Jerwood playwright mentee.  media tags Twitter account @RachelLBurnsme Wordpress site

Jackie Biggs’ first full collection, The Spaces in Between was published in September 2015 by Pinewood Press (Swansea). She has also had poetry published in many magazines and anthologies, both in print and online and she reads her work regularly at spoken word events all over west Wales, where she lives. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Some of her poetry appears on her blog:   twitter: @JackieNews

Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in Wales. Winner, New Welsh Writing Awards AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella 2017 and 2nd place in the Dorset Fiction Award, October 2017. Stories in The Lonely CrowdFictive DreamSpelk and more. Novella The Plankton Collector to be published by New Welsh Review in September 2018. On 2018 Literature Wales Mentoring Scheme. Regular contributor to Wales Arts Review Tweets @CathBarton1

Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her poems have appeared in Ezra Pound’s Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review, and The Interpreter’s House. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year shortlisted for The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas 2017.

Mandy Macdonald is an Australian writer and musician living in Aberdeen. Her poems appear in three anthologies from Grey Hen Press (2016 and 2017), Aiblins: New Sottish political poetry (Luath, 2016), A Bee’s Breakfast (Beautiful Dragons, 2016), and The Winter Solstice Anthology (2017), and in numerous other places in print and online, most recently in The Writers’ Café (issue 4), , Coast to Coast to Coast, Riggwelter, and Poetry24. When not writing, she sings.

Lynn Valentine is a writer living on the Black Isle in the Highlands. In a previous life she worked for the BBC in Glasgow and London. She has a reminiscence in the Scottish Book Trust’s Nourish book for Book Week Scotland; A poem on the Scottish Poetry Library blog as part of her Time project and I will have three short poems on the Nutshells and Nuggets website.

Rob Walton is from Scunthorpe.  His poems, short stories and flash fictions have appeared in various anthologies and magazines.  In 2018 some will be published by Popshot, the Emma Press, Atrium, Bloomsbury, Arachne, Paper Swans and Verve.

Mark Connors is an award-winning writer from Leeds, UK. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies, alongside acclaimed poets such as Simon Armitage, Andrew Motion, Antony Dunn and Kate Fox. He’s also had over 100 poems published in a variety of magazines and literary journals both in the UK and overseas, including Envoi, Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher and a number of Indigo Dreams imprints.

J. A. Sutherland is a writer and performer based in Edinburgh, widely published in pamphlets and online, producing work in a variety of forms such as art-books, exhibitions, theatre, spoken-word performance, and on a blog, A further poem from The Imaginary Menagerie sequence can be found here on The Open Mouse.

David O’Hanlon’s poetry has appeared widely in magazines and journals, including The Rialto and Acumen. His debut pamphlet, art brut, was published by V. Press in 2015, and his first collection, History, by Valley Press the following year.

Julian Isaacs, also known as Auntie Pus (The Punk Balladeer) has been writing poetry for over 45 years and cites his influences as The Children of Albion and the Beats.

Joe Williams is a former starving musician who transformed into a starving poet in 2015, entirely by mistake. He lives in Leeds and appears regularly at events in Yorkshire and beyond. He has been published in numerous anthologies, and in magazines online and in print. In 2017 he won the prestigious Open Mic Competition at Ilkley Literature Festival and had his debut poetry pamphlet, ‘Killing the Piano’, published by Half Moon

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor.  In 2017 two pamphlets were published: A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press and All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press.  She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and runs a Poetry School seminar in Plymouth.  In 2018 she has a writing residency at Brisons Veor.

Rosemary McLeish is an outsider artist who has been writing poems for about 20 years now. Some of them find themselves becoming works of art and some have been published in anthologies and magazines. She lives in Kent and is currently writing a book of memoir, ‘Not Doing The Ironing’.

Maya Horton is an artist, writer and research scientist, currently pursuing a Ph.D. Her work has taken her all across Europe. Her artwork has been exhibited around the world, and her writing has appeared in publications such as The Guardian and New Scientist, as well as numerous poetry magazines

Raine Geoghegan, MA, Lives in West Sussex. Her poems and short narratives have been published online and in print with Romany Routes Journal; Fair Acre Press, e-book on Maligned Species; Ground, Curly Mind Journal, Ink Pantry; The Travellers Times; Fly on the Wall Poetry. She has been featured in a short film, ‘Stories from the Hop Yards’, based on the work of Herefordshire photographer Derek Evans, made by Catcher Media. She is to be profiled on the Romaniarts website as part of International Women’s Day in March.


Thank you to all our wonderful contributors.

7 thoughts on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 5 “Love & Music”

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