Drop in by Browzan

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

Today I welcome poet, visual artist and filmaker, Browzan, to reflect on a poem from his debut collection, Quest for Ions...

…What is happiness? Hitchock describes it just about as profoundly as one can: ‘a clear horizon’.

Peace, the second poem in the collection, is my ‘clear horizon’.

This poem emerged, like a soft dream. Laying these words down on paper was a very soothing experience. One, I wanted the reader to share.

Though many great works catapult from the nadir of chaos, stirring one’s soul anti-clockwise isn’t always the best way to go. In this poem, I allowed a tide of inspiration to wash over me. What remains are words, ordered on a page, like footsteps on a sandy beach.

Next week read my review of Quest for Ions.

Unmuted, the latest collection by Nigel Kent is available NOW at the UK reader launch price…

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Happy sodden #Halloween #Samhain. I will feature your poetry/short prose/artworks that celebrate this event. Please include an updated short third person bio. Also, The final #folktober Today’s day theme is “Lunantisihde”, the moon faerie that defend the Blackthorn tree, who only leave the tree at full moon to pay homage to the goddess of the moon. Broadening the theme, I will feature poetry/short prose/artwork that talk of the moon.

Halloween – folktober – Lunantisidhe

talk of the dead by Liam

the girl by Liamrealm of death by liam

All works by Liam Smith


He wanted his house here, in this field where I bide. My home for his he thought a fair exchange. With nought in it for me, except to make me homeless.

My home was not in the middle of the field. Tucked away in the bottom corner in the way of no man. Dwellings and dwellers had been here before over many years. Generations even. Yet, he and only he, thought I’d not retaliate.

Aye, some men are fools to themselves. They forget all they learn as children in their pursuit of becoming masters over the land. Never learning that the best you can do is be a good and caring husband to her, but never ever a master. For the land bites back when she is ill treated. Remember that if you take nothing else from this tale. She bites back. Her teeth can be fatal. I and she can work in harmony, though I am less patient than her.

To my tale, anyway. I was in my home, which was dwindling slowly. This man decided that tonight was a wise night to steal from my home, again.

I knew he’d stolen from me in the past. A piece of wood here, a little there. Being Lunantisidhe, you will know I have little truck with humans who dream of being gods and goddesses. Most learn quickly or know better than to invoke my ire. Not this fool.

I knew he intended to come as I heard his wife make him promise not to ‘touch the tainted tree’ and his brazen reply that ‘only silly folk believe in faeries and he would do as he pleased’.

I had warned him before, with barbs and prickles that caused him enough pain to give him pause. But not enough, obviously.

He made his way down the field and began hacking, splitting the wooden walls and then I lost my temper. Feeling my spikes within his skin in several places he stopped and cursed the midges, the thorns, but his blind eyes and deaf ears were not open to see me. He took with him a chunk of the tree in which I live. My curse should have rang in his ears, but they were still closed. Nor did he fear Samhain night as any sane man might when angering the faeries. And we Lunantisidhe are not known for our niceness.

He arrived at his home, trying to look unaffected and bold. Yet, his wife saw the wood in his hand and made him leave it outside. Her plan to return it when he slept that night. She was willing to take the consequences of his anger, later. But not the anger of the faeries.

The man did not sleep that night, or the next. He died on the day after. Terrified and covered in scratches and bites he could not explain. He slept in permanence after his wife in her wisdom returned the wood and whispered on the wind for forgiveness.

I did not curse her. After all she knew best and stayed unheeded. She knew the tale that the Lunantisidhe will curse you should you cut wood from the Blackthorn on Beltane or Samhain and my home of course is there.

You would defend your home, would you not?


for Ossian*

some of the gentlest folks I know
have souls tinged
with a love of darkness

blackness and bloodstains
bind their haunted air

stains steel-pierced skin
tattoo-ink bleeds

sinister whispers
in monochrome
from American
on glossy paper

macabre masks
as though they
in everyday life
pretending to be playful

black holes where
should be

grotesque scarecrows
lie in wait
for children
guised as witches
skeletons ghouls
begging for soul cakes

those children now
done and dusted

of their older selves

a whiff of
from beyond the veil

* Haunted Air by Ossian Brown (http://hauntedair.com)

(First featured in Lonesome October Lit https://lonesomeoctoberlit.wordpress.com/for-ossian-by-spangle-mcqueen)

fright night by neal zetter

-Neal Zetter

Wary Lunantisidhe

Moon faerie they call us who guard Blackthorn.
Cailleach’s stick. We worship her who only
uncovers part of her face, then full on
face. She is crescent, blood, blue, wolf, Barley.

I’m spiky like the gnarled thorns of our home.
We curse all who threaten our place, break her
inhabited heart, this beautiful crone.
lit by storm, chaste, seed, corn, dyad, mead, hare.

Red sap, white flowers, black bark. The year’s,
a life’s, the moon’s waning, celebrates all
change with my long arms, legs and pointed ears.
I’m one you struggle through, a sharp wall.

Both moon and tree are our close belonging.
Bark, berries and leaves clean blood, are healing.

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Spangle McQueen
is a happy grandma and hopeful poet living in Sheffield. She is proud and grateful to have work accepted and/or published by Three Drops Press; Picaroon; Lonesome October Lit; Bonnie’s Crew; Burning House Press; Dwell Collective Zine; Strix; Awkward Mermaid; I am not a Silent Poet; The Writers’ Café; Foxglove Journal and Sad Girl Review.

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child. 
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes! 
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day! 
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination. 

#Folktober Today’s day theme is “Cailleach”, a divine hag who manipulates the landscape and weather. Often said to be the Queen of Winter. Broadening the theme, I will feature your poetry/short prose/artwork about shapers of the land and weather.

folktober – “Cailleach”


Drawing by John Duncan in Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend (1917)

caillleach by constance bacchus

-Constance Bacchus (as featured in Empty Mirror https://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/poems/constance-bacchus)


When Brigid casts
her autumn crown
The winter hag
puts on her gown
Strides the mountains
upon their tops
Where she steps
her plaid frost drops
Whilst she sits
on her mountain throne
Snows will fall
on ground like stone

Peter Roe – October 2021


There she stood in her wrinkled peach skin
Wizened by years and knowing
That her full self would not be seen
By the people who chose fear
Of age and cunning.
She smiled at the thought of time
Playing pranks on those beautiful ones
With souls darker than any shade
That could be viewed on the bleakest
Of starless nights .
The pulling of the enforced smiles
Bestowed on those who berated her daily
Yet said nothing except sweet hellos
For fear of the old woman’s curse
Of spending eternity with her.
If they knew she thinks I’ve harmed none
From a girl to cailleach
Yet still they fear my separateness
Like it’s catching or enchanted
Or they may learn something.
If I were not a woman she tuts
A hermit I’d be and no fear would follow
But a woman who wants the same…
One day we shall have it. A world of equals
Of nothing different
Of that I can hope.
-©️AilsaCawleyPoetry 2019

I’m Cailleach

I constantly move under my own weight.
I slowly deform, flow under stresses
induced by my own weight to create
seracs, formed by intersecting crevasses.

Old hag’s stick strike makes ice, hammer makes hills,
moves mountains. I am Queen of the Winter.
I freeze your bones, give you the shake of chills.
I’m earth mover, rock breaker, bone splitter.

I’m a one-eyed giantess with white hair, dark
blue skin, and rust-coloured teeth. Glacier
I’m retreating, losing fight with heats mark
melts me increases ocean, disappear.

I’m a divine hag who is more and more
absent. Soon I will be myth and folklore

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Constance Bacchus

lives with her daughter in eastern Washington. Sometimes they discuss mythology, especially strong women like Cailleach.

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child. 
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes! 
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day! 
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination. 

Intense Silence: The Poetry of James Reeves

The High Window

Although best known today as an editor, anthologist and award-winning writer of children’s verse, James Reeves (1909-1978) was also a prolific writer of adult poetry and was hailed by among others Robert Graves, Laura Riding, and Robert Nye as being one of the finest poets alive. In a stunning new selection  of his work published by Greenich Exchange – the first since his death, and edited by John Howlett – Reeves’ poetry can be reappraised as being amongst the most consistent and varied bodies of work of the twentieth century. It masterfully combines straightforward readability with a profound and deeply philosophical way of viewing the world. At its heart lies a poet whose work encompassed satire, elegy, humour, and doubt, yet was always underscored by a profound humanity.

The editor of The High Window is grateful to John Howlett, Gareth Reeves and Greenwich Exchange for permisssion to publish poems …

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Not Here – There by Andrew Taylor (Shearsman Books)

Tears in the Fence

The poems inNot There – Hereare somewhat more relaxed and conversational in tone than Taylor’s earlier books, but are still in the vein of minimalist, compressed writing typical of his work, in which close observation of the external world is mixed with a collage of texts and discourses. For this short review I want to focus on a single poem which I think is representative of many of the poems in the book. Here’s the poem in full:


The larch has been felled

Phytophthera ramorum

let’s drive the different route 17 miles

cattle grids

empty feedbags

strung like scarecrows

Railway at times runs parallel

ballast plumb line straight

Our single track

Passing place

Signal stagnant


signpost navigation GPS

unnamed road

follow the quietness

valley emptyit looks like a bomb’s gone off

toward the estate there is cover

thirty five years ago

we took this drivetracks remain

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#folktober Today’s day theme is “kelpie” a beautiful shapeshifting black horse that inhabits pools and rivers and preys on humans that pass by. Broadening the theme out, I will feature your poetry/short prose/artworks about any shapeshifting being.

folktober – kelpie

The Kelpie

The Kelpie by Herbert James Draper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The warning ignored 

I told her again and again. But, would she listen to me? Then it took her, after charming her and her wee brother. Nothing much left to speak of of either of them. 

I don’t know how many times I’ve warned them both about playing down by the river. And on the Lord’s day, too! What will people say? I’ll tell you what. That my children, her especially, disobey their parents. The looks. The whispers in the village. I’ve heard them. Just before the smiles and the sneering words of sorrow. The questions that ask where two of my children have gone to, who with, and why.

How do I say to people that my previously good children were taken off on the back of a beast? Something resembling a horse, but it’s coat seemed to weld them to it. It’s mane that should be hair, yet I saw the writhing snakes, mouths agape. They appeared to be laughing at me for losing my children no doubt. For my lack of control. For screaming wildly at them to let go of the animal. I’m certain I heard it cackling on the wind. Sure of it. 

My girl tried in vain to help her brother. His hands were stuck fast. And yet, he had no fear. He was giggling. She was screaming. I tried to catch it and almost did. Almost. As it dashed into the loch headfirst with my children as passengers, I tried to grab the mane of snakes, and was bitten for my trouble. I felt it. There’s no mark on me, today. Under the water it went, deeper and deeper. That satanic beast. Taking two of my four children with it. Leaving their screams on the wind and one single yellow ribbon afloat on the water from my girl. 

My wife is grieving the children. Her anger is all for me. Not for their disobedience. But, if I had been a better man, stood less nonsense, they’d be here. She says that to all who’ll listen. Oh, to my face they say that it’s grief talking. And yet, I round corners to hear them saying the self same thing. 

Will I ever forgive myself? Should I? That sight will be with me for eternity. 

-©Ailsa Cawley 2021

werewolf moon
the man he left behind
not what she wanted

-John Hawkhead

john hawkhead dust ti dust

dust to dust
the wind whistles a tune
that used to be his

Image and words by John Hawkhead

Bios And Links

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child. 
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes! 
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day! 
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination. 

Walking into the New Collection

Wendy Pratt

Yesterday I had the most amazing news. I’ve been awarded a Society of Authors Foundation Grant to help me to develop and work on my new poetry collection. I’ve been working on the collection here and there for a while. Just last week I had a look through my files to see how many poems were suitable for it and found, to my surprise, that I have between fifteen and twenty poems that fit into the concept that I’m working towards. Are they any good? hmmmm some are, some aren’t. I’ve begun to realise of late that my own writing process has changed considerably over the last couple of years. I used to write a lot of poems, I used to have fits of writing that were like purges, poems flowing out of me. These days the process is much slower, much more like waiting for something to grow and…

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Breakfast at the Origami Café by Tess Jolly (Blue Diode Press)

Tears in the Fence

Poems in this collection, stunning in language and shocking in theme, pivot on paradox. In the section called ‘Confetti’,for instance,in the six-part sequence ‘She’,the reader is led into the beauty of a sensory garden with flowers and nests filled with ‘soft pink fledglings.’ Instantly, the flowers are yanked out by the roots, nests are lobbied over the wall and those small fledglings are, horrifyingly, shredded into confetti and scattered. InBreakfast at the Origami Café,we are in a world half dream, half nightmare, a world of masks and vanishing through cracks, a condition of ‘now-you-see-us-now-you-don’t.’(‘Gaps’).

There is violence at the heart of the poems in this collection, a tradition of violence, the memories it brings, the damage and regrets.Breakfast at the Origami Cafécomprises four sections all with underlying shadows and pain. Part 1, which focuses on the mother figure, is…

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Wombwell Rainbow Book Reviews: “Where Flora Sings” by Margaret Royall

When Flora Sings

Her book is divided into two sections; Flower Power/People Power, and Roses and Thorns: A Retrospective on Life’s Triumphs and Trials.

Looking at the first section.

Each flower is examined through our relationship with it, rather than a look at the life of the flower.

 “BUTTERCUP”  begins with an event that made me smile, because I remember doing it, and it being done to me as a child. The putting of the petals of the flower under your chin to see whether you liked butter. Such a tender moment, that in the poem becomes a memory of the person that did it. Nostalgia brought up sharply into grief.

The theme of dealing with grief is suggested by an “In Memoriam” before the contents. The book is dedicated to Virginia Mustard (my dear late friend, Ginnie) who loved all flowers, especially sunflowers”.


Each one a dear friend,
remembered fondly every
day, held close in prayer,
like blood-red droplets trickling
from a wound which never heals.

Nature as an orchestra. Paganism often referred to in the form of fairies and Saturn and magic. 


These rites still prevail in the fabric of earth
And we still gather berries and deck out our homes,
Using these symbols to mark Christian birth,
Forgetting their origin on old pagan stones.

Christian Easter only once.

Exceedingly visceral description brings a time and place to life in “LADY WITH LAVENDER AURA”:

She hears the electric hum of bees in lupin throats,
watches fingers pluck flowers from air-raid shelter walls,
Breathes in carbolic soap from the hard-scrubbed nails
of her dad, stripped off to wash in the kitchen sink,
Drools as her mum lifts milk-topped scones from
the blackened side-oven – Mrs Beaton’s, of course.
On elbow crooks and freckled wrists she drips
the oil, cuts on her fingers stinging like vinegar.

“DRAGONFLY” the final poem describes the fleetingness of life, and joy:

banishing the inky-black maelstrom
within me, rekindling extinguished
flames of passion, long pulped to ash
in a broken heart.

Together for a nano-second
we tasted eternity.

In “Section Two: Roses and Thorns: A Retrospective on Life’s Triumphs and Trials.” most of the poems are inspired by other folks poems and music or dedicated to folk. The first poem speaks of being reborn, the last of deep sleep. The poems deepen the exploration of grief, of something lost, something regained, or never regained. Again, the orchestral metaphor, specifically in the first poem inspired by Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”., and “REQUIEM FOR A CELLIST”, Then throughout the section music choral and otherwise become a metaphor for the movement of nature as in:


In memory of Garry and Judith, forever in my heart

How still it is! Waiting measured in raindrop crotchets,

A celebration of childhood excitement in “FLASHBACK AND PROLEPSIS”, then of het grandma. All poems of recall.

The final poem in the collection is “THE POET AT NIGHT” A Celebration of the Joy of writing Poetry. sums up the whole book in this phrase:

Virtual sonnets
ripe for inscription dance across
the linen canvas of a blotting paper sky.

Tenderness , memory and celebration worked through so that it is a book of surprises. A necessary journey that may be bought here: Where Flora Sings

A Green Hallowe’en

Angela Topping

I’ve always loved Hallowe’en. When I was a child, the children took care of it. It was all about playing out, telling spooky stories and trying to scare each other in the early evening dark after tea. I remember one year cadging a turnip from a farmer so we could make a turnip lantern. I regretted it because the thing was so hard to carve and smelled disgusting when we lit a candle in it. The flesh we’d hollowed out was given to my dad for making soup. He always hated turnip, having eaten so much of it as a child.

When my own children were small, we’d bake Hallowe’en biscuits for anyone who came to the door. There was dressing up, stories, maybe apple-bobbing. I didn’t take my children out to knock on doors, but we sometimes had a party. The most we ever bought for it was maybe…

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