Drop in Margaret Royall

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

I’m delighted that this week Margaret Royall, author of the excellent The Road to Cleethorpes Pier’ has dropped in to talk about one of the poems from her new collection, Where Flora Sings.

This poem began as a figment of my imagination. I had been to the Djanogly Art Gallery in the Lakeside complex at Nottingham University with my U3a Museums and Galleries group and we had met there to view the Ivon Hitchens exhibition. This particular artwork, ‘Winter Stage’ (click here to view) drew me in and fascinated me. It was difficult to obtain a head-on view, as an art-historian or professor (clearly an expert) and his student were standing blocking the way. The former was holding forth to his wide-eyed protege, obviously explaining intricate details of the painting. Eventually they moved far enough for me to get close. I kept returning to the painting at intervals and intrigued…

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First Responders – A Flash Fiction by Faye Brinsmead w/ a Digital Painting by Robert Frede Kenter

IceFloe Press

First Responders

I won’t know how I feel until I’ve baked them. Until, snapping off their arms and legs, I hear words tumble out between warm, scented mouthfuls. In the beginning, when Mum sent them in foil-wrapped batches to every new place, that was my favourite game of make-believe. That they cared about me, even though I ate them. That, until I licked the last crumb from my fingers, scrunched the buttery foil into a ball and hid it among my underwear, they listened to every word I said.

Now, I have to believe it. Otherwise. Otherwise I don’t know what.

Mum’s recipe card is propped on the window sill, for company rather than guidance. I know each frilled cursive by heart.Place the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in a bowl and beat until light and creamy… add the eggs…mix in the spices…knead until smooth…until smooth…

I could…

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#Owloween 31st October 2020 poetry and artwork creative challenge. Have you written an unpublished/published poem or poetic prose about Owls? Have you done any artworks that feature Owls? Please DM me on Twitter, or contact via my WordPress site The Wombwell Rainbow. I will feature all submissions.

Mums Imaginary Menagerie by Neal Zetter

-Neal Zetter


Owl says she can take away your fear
if you name the right price.

That she’ll drink the sweat
from your goosebump skin
and siphon off the adrenalin
that makes your heart beat too fast.

That she’ll fly to the edge of the world,
regurgitate them in the form of a pellet
that’s heavy enough to sink through time
and be swallowed in a black hole.

You pause to consider the proposal.
Offer her one black feather
that will absorb darkness in her white breast;
the melodious song of the robin she devours.

She shrugs, turns her head to the left,
closes eyes the colour of night terror,
and in her dismissal your fear makes you
small enough for her to swallow.

You reconsider. Offer 20/20 daytime vision
so she won’t be blinded by the sun
and the knowledge you’ve gleaned
from a lifetime of academic learning.

She opens one lazy eye. You pause.
This time, with a trembling voice, you offer
the wisdom of the preordained future
and details of her unavoidable death.

She opens her other eye, turns her head,
and fixes you with a tunnel black stare
that freezes you with a fear great enough
to take away all you’ve previously known.
-Susan Darlington

POS The Owl Guide artworkPOS The Owl Guide text

The Owl Guide from “Port of Souls” (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), my collaboration with cracking Dutch artist Marcel Herms

Owl 2Owl 3

Mother and Her Languages – A Hybrid by Henneh Kyereh Kwaku

IceFloe Press

Mother & Her languages

[…] What was the first known act of translation in the history of mankind?

[…] it was when a mother heard her baby babble or cry, and had to decide in an instant what it meant.

—Mary Ruefle

Over the phone, I tell Maa: please rest. She snorts. I understand. She means: if I don’t, who will? I wish I didn’t understand this. But I do. I wish this could be lost in translation—but I’d be a wicked son, unworthy, but still a son— not to understand my mother’s tongue.
Another day on the phone, Maa: n’te wo n’ka akyɛre. Maa has never said I miss you, if she ever did, I don’t remember or maybe I stole it from her throat—I sharpened my tongue on a stone, pulled her closer, licked her throat until the words lost their roots & their heaviness.

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Two Poems by Suzanne S. Rancourt

IceFloe Press

Half Life of Dawn

sunrise blankets shadows
blue jays squawk warnings – raptors swoop up
to dive down – talons pierce the backs of grey squirrels
everybody’s gotta eat

control currents – hold center – stay the course
winters first snow, open channels steam

i am my own evidence and reclaim the power
as coattails billow back to the past
front open, air circulates through
clothing thin skinned on its way to being human
being alive
acknowledge that a river has a flow
a direction and just because we are averse to getting wet
doesn’t mean we change the river.

shiver a breath across waves
learn how to hear this voice
learn to be present
in the water

CW: Violence

as though ethnic cleansing was a bearable task in justified culling

they were made to fuck their dead mothers
to lie in open graves motionless
for each twitch, a family…

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Don Afrika-Beukes Chronicles

Cover Art © Jay Chakravarti

Guest Editor : Scott Thomas Outlar

Dream Nation

The Red Kite – Somewhere in a battered war zone
a young boy barely ten years old spots a strange sight
of a red kite against a bright coral sky, not bothered
where it came from as long as it colours in his bleak
life after daily salvos of bullets delivering his unwanted
symphony of cream screams – Masked by deep base
explosions riding to a falsetto of repetitive high-pitched
aerial gifts of new experimental chemical bombs designed
to delete deplete and destroy everything he has ever
known – Everyone he has ever loved, left with the daily
taste of dust sprinkled with ashes of what was before –
Nearly blinded by yet another early evening menu of bright
deadly showers of heat-seeking missiles, that young
boy started running from his burning safe haven, yearning
to reach…

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Gestation – A Poem by Mary Ford Neal

IceFloe Press


After the third trimester, sickness fades;
kicking diminishes. Needing to breathe
again, in airless panic I stretch out
in bed, coaxing my organs back to life:
pleading with lungs to wake and plant a bloom
in each cheek; promising ribs it won’t be long.

But hasn’t it already been too long,
and still no sign of when it might be out?
More than a year I’ve watered, fed, and breathed
for this offspring, burgeoning as I fade,
expanding as I tend it into life,
greying my letters out, blanching my bloom.

What drudgery to bring a thing to bloom!
I do begin to wonder, as I long
for air, if this could be, not a new life,
but an old master plan to catch me out,
to dim my mind and set my looks to fade,
and finally, to trick away my breath.

I notice that it pains me…

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Edward Alport: Micropoetry and the Twitterverse

The High Window

Edward Alport is a retired teacher and occasional writer who occasionally gets published. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse. He also moderates the monthly @ThePoetryFloor Twitter writing event.



Micropoetry and Twitter have become inextricably linked in the cultural universe, and they are about the same age, with ‘micro-poem’ beating Twitter by 2004 to 2006. ‘Micro-poem’, as a term, was coined by W G Sebald in Unrecounted, which was published posthumously in 2004. As Sebald died in 2001 we can assume that the term is slightly older.

The word micropoem (without the hyphen) is not defined in the OED (at the time of writing) but is now used generally to apply to any very short poem. But ‘very short poems’ have been around for as long as poetry has been around and succeeds, or doesn’t, for very much the…

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The Fifth Notebook of Dylan Thomas: Annotated Manuscript Edition Edited by John Goodby and Adrian Osbourne (Bloomsbury)

Tears in the Fence

The Notebook, a red Zenith Exercise Book, found in a Tesco bag by Louie King, a former servant of Dylan Thomas’s mother in law, contains fifteen and a half poems. The half poem being the first five sonnets of the ten comprising ‘Altarwise by owl-light’. The poems from Thomas’s first two collections, 18 Poems (1934) and Twenty-five Poems (1936) are mostly fair copies of ‘finished’ poems, written on the right hand side, or recto, pages. There are some missing pages and some occasional crossings out, less than one per cent of which were undecipherable. Written between May 1934 and August 1935, the notebook contains no unpublished work. However, it does reveal a break between the ‘process’ poetry he had begun in 1933 and the non-referential poems that came next. The Notebook allows more accurate dating of compositions, with poems, such as, ‘I dreamed my genesis’, ‘Seven’ and the sonnets of…

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