Celebrate #NationalStationeryWeek Day Two. Celebrate #penandpencil. Please join Peter Donnelly and Dave Garbutt. Do you have any favourite ways of making notes with pen and paper. A favourite pen to write with? Pencil case poems, joy of handwriting rather than typing. Still write letters? Your favourite writing paper? Mon 16th: #makeanoteday, Tuesday 17th: #penandpencil,Wednesday 18th: #worldstationeryday,Thursday 19th: #workhappy, Friday 20th: #fountainpenfriday, Saturday 21st: #stationeryshopsaturday, Sunday 22nd: #sendaletterdaysunday. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks Please include a 3rd person bio

Day Two
natstatweek

pen day by dave garbutt

-image by Dave Garbutt

Favourite pen(s) Pilot Capless, Twsbi Eco, and Cult Pens compact with a stub 1.1mm nib. Pencil: Uni Kuru Toga sleeve, Kokuyo enpitsu sharp MS P501, 1.3mm. I write my first drafts with them and edit before typing up.

TL;DR is capless is eminently practical, reservoir will last a day at a conference, writes beautifully with the gold nib, capless makes it great for whipping out of a pocket and just writing, no cap to lose,the stub gives a lovely sharp line.

…the Eco is much cheaper and almost as good. And it has a cap. The has more flex than is usual fir a steel nib. The Lamy studio I also use a nib with same width but it makes a wider line and the Lamy nibs I find too stiff.

dave garbutt pen 3dave garbutt pen 2

-images by Dave Garbutt

Pens

Some of them have stood for five years
in my purple Penguin mug
with a quote from Virginia Woolf
that I long ago stopped drinking from.

Grandad’s black and gold Paper Mate
I’ve never bothered to buy a refill for,
free gifts sent in the post by Red Cross,
leaving presents from temping jobs.

The blue Fountain Pentel I bought in Aberaeron,
used by a poet to sign my copy of her book.
It’s nearly run out but I’ll still have the ink
once I’ve thrown away the pen.

Others I’m sure I’ve never used,
maybe never will.
They make my guests think
I write more than I do

standing there like an artist’s paintbrushes,
befriended by a pencil that’s hardly ever sharpened
and a brass letter-opener
with a handle of the Welsh flag.

-Peter Donnelly

Bios and Links

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/11/08/dave-garbutt-interview/.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom. 

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook, Medium.com, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter. He has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Dreich and Writer’s Egg, where some of these poems have previously appeared. Last year he won second prize in the Ripon Poetry Festival competition.

#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2022. 16th-22nd May. Day Two. Please join Lesley Curwen, Margaret Royall, Beth Brooke and I in talking about dementia. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day Two
dementia action week 2022two lovers in wheelchairs, knee to knee

they’ve made me chairman of the board but I’m not up to it
you’ll be great at the job is your room warm enough
what happened to my first wife she was nice
we’ve been married sixty years the Queen sent a card
it’s so good to see you where is this
Magnolia Court you’ve been ill
I’m in London for the new job
Magnolia Court
I’ve only got a fiver for cabs can you lend me some
you’ve got all you need a room and meals
don’t want to be here
it’s all right
this isn’t funny
hold my hand
what’s going on
hush my love
can’t do this anymore
come here
I don’t want to
be

-Lesley Curwen (She says: A poem about my aunt and uncle in their two wheelchairs.)

mother's care home by beth brooke

-Beth Brooke (First in a series that I will post daily throughout the week)

Requiem for a Cellist

She rocks rhythmically in her chair,
Her eyes dulled by grief, skeletal fingers
clutching rosary beads, chanting over and over
‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

Dementia gnaws away at her brain
She clenches her fists, howls
like a caged wolf, searching
desperately for her beloved ‘cello

Then as if by magic it appears, a Stradivari,
propped up by the Steinway grand,
pleading to be picked up and played again
Its bow sprawled across the piano lid,
resin box still unopened

A sudden draft from the open window
breathes life back into the stale air.
Haunting sounds unlock iconic images,
transporting her to lovers’ beds, concert halls,
summer gardens and back-street alleys,
a heady rush of half-remembered liaisons,
ecstasy and pain intertwined

Final chords crescendo then trail away
into the invading gloom of a winter twilight
One last brave ‘da capo’- then finally silence

Her weary frame crumples in dismay
She attempts to rise from her chair, pleads
one last time: ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

First published in my 2nd poetry collection, ‘Where Flora Sings’

-Margaret Royall

Bio and Links

-Beth Brooke

is a recently retired teacher and education consultant. She lives in Dorset but was born and did important parts of her growing in the Middle East. The landscapes of both these places are strong influences on her writing. She has had work published in a number of online journals and has been placed in a couple of small poetry competitions. She loves writing poems and sharing them with other people.

-Margaret Royall

is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:

Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.

She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com

Twitter: RoyallMargaret

Instagram : meggiepoet

Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Sallyanne Rock

Screenshot_2022-05-17-05-48-09-79_b5f6883d2c20a96c53babc0b4ac88108

-Sallyanne Rock

is from the Black Country. Her poetry has been published in various journals and anthologies including Eye Flash, Away With Words, Anthropocene, Finished Creatures, Dear Damsels and 100 Voices. Her work has been displayed alongside The Women’s Quilt at National Trust The Workhouse, Southwell. She was awarded the Creative Future Gold Prize for Poetry in 2019. Her debut pamphlet, Salt & Metal, is published by Fawn Press. Find her on Twitter @sallrockspoetry.

The Interviews

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

I started writing following a difficult relationship breakdown. I was devastated and struggling with the emotional turmoil. Rupi Kaur was just becoming really popular on Instagram and her short simple poems just resonated. I discovered Hollie McNish’s Nobody Told Me around the same time and I found the content and language really relatable. This led me to try to write a few poems myself – they were very raw and I had no real concept of the craft, but it helped me to feel better so I kept doing it. After that I started reading more widely and also connecting with the local poetry scene, going to readings, workshops etc. and at that point writing poetry became a regular thing.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I studied A Level English Literature, so that was my first real introduction to poetry. I remember mainly studying Plath, Hughes and Larkin. After college I hardly read any poetry until about 15-20 years later! I was introduced to contemporary poetry mainly through social media and getting involved in the local scene.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Not at all really. When I started reading poetry properly I was mainly reading contemporary poets. I feel like poetry is having a revival moment right now, and while the influence of older poets and the canon is always present, I don’t feel like they’re a dominating presence.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

As much as I’d like to, I don’t have one. A full time job and single-parenting two teens takes care of that! Instead I try to carve out as much writing time as I can whenever I can, although this is usually more like weekly than daily. If I have a project on the go I’ll squeeze writing and editing into any available free time.

5. What motivates you to write?

I tend to want to write if I’m moved by something; it could be an event, a story or a memory. Occasionally a poem will just start forming in my head and I have this panic to get it written down before it disappears and that is very motivating! I also love to hear other poets talk about poetry, and I sign up for as many panels and readings as I can. The passion of others always inspires me to develop my own practice.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’m a perfectionist, so I feel the need to work hard and turn in my best effort 100% of the time. I’m aware it’s not healthy and it means that when I’m getting towards the ‘finished’ stage of a poem or book I get a lot of anxiety around it, because I want it to be perfect (and nothing ever is!).

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I’m not sure I am influenced by writers I read when I was young. It’s the writers I’ve discovered in the last 5 years that have made the biggest impact on me and my own writing.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There are so many amazing people writing at the moment, it’s hard to narrow it down! I am always inspired by Andrew McMillan, Raymond Antrobus, Anthony Anaxagorou, and Salena Godden. It’s something about their outlook as well as their writing that inspires me; I feel like I can learn so much from them. They always speak with such honesty and passion, both on and off the page. I dearly love poets with a West Midlands or Black Country connection, especially those writing in the Black Country dialect like Emma Purshouse and Liz Berry. Casey Bailey, Roz Goddard and Roy McFarlane are also amazing poets with a local connection. I love to hear them read their work – it feels like coming home. Kim Moore and Helen Mort have been particularly inspiring in my own writing – both poets share with us such powerful insight on women, our place in our society, the male gaze, and the way we have suffered at the hands of a patriarchal system. Finally I have to mention the mighty Joelle Taylor, who is an absolute powerhouse. Just picking up one of her books makes me feel strong.

9. Why do you write?

I just love the whole process, beginning to end. From the initial idea to the scribbled draft, then the crafting of the piece, meticulously replacing one word with another until it works just right, playing with line breaks, changing the shape of the poem on the page, cutting whole stanzas, keeping one line and writing a whole new poem around it. Then the feeling of having written it, having the final form in front of you, and being able to share it with readers and for them to respond to it.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Sit down and start writing, as often as you can, and alongside that, read as much as possible. Consume writing that inspires you, and use that inspiration to build the foundation of your own practice. Sign up for workshops – there’s so much available online now. Join a writing group or sign up with a mentor to give you feedback and guidance. If you want to be published, start looking on social media for submission opportunities in magazines, etc. Find a community of other writers that you can become involved with, either locally or online. So much flows from engaging with the writing community – inspiration, opportunities and support.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

My debut pamphlet, ‘Salt & Metal’ has just been published by Fawn Press. It’s an exploration of being in an abusive relationship and the consequences of having lived through it, whilst also looking at the reclamation of the self and finding hope for the future.

Celebrate #NationalStationeryWeek Day One. #MakeANoteDay. Do you have any favourite ways of making notes with pen and paper. A favourite pen to write with? Pencil case poems, joy of handwriting rather than typing. Still write letters? Your favourite writing paper? Mon 16th: #makeanoteday, Tuesday 17th: #penandpencil,Wednesday 18th: #worldstationeryday,Thursday 19th: #workhappy, Friday 20th: #fountainpenfriday, Saturday 21st: #stationeryshopsaturday, Sunday 22nd: #sendaletterdaysunday. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks Please include a 3rd person bio

Day One

natstatweek

#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2022. 16th-22nd May. Day one. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day One

dementia action week 2022

Previously appeared here Empty by Lesley James — Full House Literary

 

Lost & Found

You got up by yourself this morning,
put on your own knickers,
said you fancied eggs and bacon.

You went outside – first time in two years,
to breathe the dawn air and
survey the world since you left it.

In a few days, you remembered
your name, the dog’s, who I was,
that the postman wasn’t your Dad.

You exchanged pleasantries
with the woman next door, no longer
suspecting her of plotting your murder.

The hairdresser turned your flat feathers
into a helmet of curls, in the mirror
igniting a glimmer of recognition.

We chucked the grab rails and Complan
drove the zimmer to the tip, turned
your pill box into earring storage.

Weeks went by, you took the car out,
joined the library, had a stab at calligraphy,
tried your first chai latte.

Then on Sunday we came home and there
you were on hands and knees under the table,
looking for something. You didn’t know what.

From Lost & Found published by Hedgehog Poetry Press 2020
Vicpickup.com / @vicpickup

-Vic Pickup

Recognition

Black and white prints
cover creased hands.
Eyes narrow, dazed,
not seeing…

We slung satchels over knitted cardigans,
slammed the door,
grey pleated skirts hitched high above the knee.

We stood to attention at the bell,
split from my look-a-like,
a whistle insisted we march
into separate classrooms.

In the sixties we explored
Brighton Laines,
rummaged antique stores,
picked up gold leafed books,
bought treasure boxes
to hide shared secrets.

We sank into striped deckchairs,
flipped off our tops to reveal
psychedelic swimsuits-
plastic sunglasses concealed our faces.
We lazed by gull-grey waves,
pebbles chattered at our feet.

We sniffed salt from the sea,
cardboard cones on our noses,
read Jackie in the sun.
A transistor radio blurred Cathy’s
Clown, from the Top Ten charts.

I sit by the iron framed bed,
wait for a flicker of recognition.

Chubby Checker
blasts from the box
high on the wall

Lillie looks up,
whispers my name.

‘Freddie – The Twist.
you and me that day
down in Brighton.’

– Patricia M Osborne (previously published in Reach Poetry (2016) )

-Annick Yerem (First published in Dreich)

Audrey’s time

We wheel her into
the waning evening sun
as if the sunlight
would somehow restore her
like some wilting plant.

She does not speak.
Not now.
Words run away
from her,
slipping her grasp
like unruly children,
reluctant to come home
at dusk.

We fill her time,
with family photos
till we have earned
our leave;
filial duty fulfilled
for yet another week.

She looks at
our departure
with shuttered eyes,
mouth ajar,
memories escaping
with every feeble wheeze,
whilst her tissue soft hands
clench and unclench
in her lap,
as if anticipating
some last
decisive assault,

which we think
guiltily
can’t come
too
soon.

-Nigel Kent

(published in ‘Saudade’, Nigel Kent, Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2019)

First published by The Blue Nib

REQUIEM FOR A CELLIST

She rocks rhythmically in her chair,
Her eyes dulled by grief, skeletal fingers
clutching rosary beads. In despair she chants
‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

The creeping evil nibbles away at her brain
She clenches her fists, howls
like a caged wolf, searching
desperately for her beloved ‘cello.

Then, as if by magic it appears, a Stradivari,
propped up by the Steinway grand,
pleading to be picked up and played again,
its bow sprawled across the piano lid,
resin box still unopened.

A sudden draft from the open window
breathes life back into the stale air.
Haunting sounds unlock iconic images,
transporting her to lovers’ beds, concert halls,
summer gardens and back-street alleys –
a heady rush of half-remembered liaisons,
ecstasy and pain intertwined.

Final chords crescendo then trail away
into the invading gloom of a winter twilight.
One last brave ‘da capo’- then peace descends.

Her weary frame crumples in dismay,
She attempts to rise from her chair, pleads
one last time: ‘Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine’

-Margaret Royall

A Message

One of the best of minds
destroyed by dementia

does not howl on her knees
in the street, does not masturbate

in the magnolia living-room,
is not dragged off the roof-top,

naked; no, she leaves a message
on her daughter’s answer-phone

saying: there’s an echo,
an echo in my head.

-Olive M. Ritch

 

Bios and Links

-Lesley James

started submitting to journals in 2021. She has flash fiction in The Broken Spine and CafeLit, poems in Dydd Dylan Day anthology and writing for children in The Dirigible Balloon and Parakeet Magazine. ‘Empty’ was selected by Kathryn O’Driscoll for Full House LitFest’s Mental Health feature.

-Margaret Royall

is a Laurel Prize nominated poet. She has been shortlisted for several poetry prizes and won the Hedgehog Press’ collection competition 2020. She has two poetry collections:

Fording The Stream and Where Flora Sings, a memoir in prose and verse, The Road To Cleethorpes Pier and a new pamphlet, Earth Magicke out April 2021. She has been widely published online and in print, most recently: Hedgehog Press, The Blue Nib, Impspired & forthcoming in Sarasvati and Dreich.

She performs regularly at open mic events and facilitates a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com

Twitter: RoyallMargaret

Instagram : meggiepoet

Facebook Author Page: Facebook.com/margaretbrowningroyall

Annick Yerem

lives and works in Berlin. In her dreams, she can swim like a manatee. Annick tweets @missyerem and has, to her utmost delight, been published by Pendemic, Detritus, @publicpoetry, RiverMouthReview, #PoetRhy, Anti-Heroin-Chic, Rejection Letters, Dreich, 192, The Failure Baler and Rainbow Poems. https://missyerem.wordpress.comhttps://linktr.ee/annickyerem

-Nigel Kent
is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.
He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List.
In 2021 he was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Reviewer of Literature.
To find out more visit his website: http://www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter @kent_nj

-Olive M. Ritch

is a poet originally from Orkney. She was the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust’s Next Chapter Award 2020 and in 2006, she received the Calder Prize for Poetry from the University of Aberdeen. Her work has been extensively published in literary magazines, anthologies and websites including Poetry Review, Agenda, The Guardian, New Writing Scotland, The Poetry Cure (Bloodaxe) and the Scottish Poetry Library. Her work has also been broadcast on Radio 4.

Tears in the Fence 74 is out!

Tears in the Fence

Tears in the Fence 74 is now available at http://tearsinthefence.com/pay-it-forward and features poetry, prose poetry, fiction, flash fiction, translations and creative non-fiction by Seán Street, Mandy Pannett, Isobel Armstrong, Jeremy Reed, Andrew Mears, Anum Sattar, Ian Davidson, Joanna Nissel, Simona Nastac, Alan Baker, Lilian Pizzichini, Lucy Ingrams, Beth Davyson, Charles Wilkinson, Scott Thurston, Gerald Killingworth, Gabriela Macon, Kate Noakes, Peter Robinson, Kay Syrad, Huw Lawrence, Lesley Burt, K. V. Skene, John Freeman, Jane Wheeler, Tamsin Hopkins, Rachel Goodman & Elvire Roberts, Andrea Moorhead, Rebecca Althaus, Rachel Goodman, Mark Goodwin, Marina Tsvetaeva translated by Belinda Cooke, Alice Tarbuck, Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana, Adrian Clarke, Nigel Jarrett, Norman Jope, Steve Spence, Maddie Forest, Claire HM, Peter Larkin and Mark Russell.

The critical section includes Richard Foreman’s Editorial, John Freeman on Shelley’s Animism and Ecology, Alice Tarbuck on Thomas A. Clark, Carla Scarano on Margaret Attwood, Jeremy Reed on Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of…

View original post 82 more words

Then by Linda Black (Shearsman Books)

Tears in the Fence

I simply love this book and could quote from it endlessly. Split into nine sections it’s playful yet serious and seriously playful at the same time. These are poems which sing and suggest, slip from idea to idea, confuse your thought processes yet delight the eye and the brain with an abundance of energy, skill and sheer brilliance. There is rhyme and assonance in abundance, all the traditional tricks of the trade yet done in such a way as not to overstate the case and even when this is the case to do it with such bravado and gusto that the reader is helplessly in thrall. Here, for example, are the first and final stanzas in the opening poem ‘Time is of the effervescence’:

Thenit’spopped.Likewiseapillarofwell-being – toomuchtaboo

contravenes the notion that all’s well. Many are non-believers confounding

the desire to know. An expansive watch tells it all.

Onthedot. Safetybehind the…

View original post 759 more words

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Paul Tanner

F WORD WARNING

He has two versions of his biography

Paul Tanner

was shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. He is the author of “Shop Talk” (Penniless Press, 2019), “No Refunds” (Alien Buddha Press, 2020) and “Working Class Zero” (Dreich Publications, 2021).

Paul Tanner

is barely qualified for minimum wage. He’s been earning it, and writing about it, for too long. His star sign is Libido. Hobbies include pillage and colouring in. “

The Interview

  1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

Maybe tomorrow. And why the hell not, eh?

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

If I could remember, I’d be doing time.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I try not to be.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Hiding in the work cubicle, scrawling on bog paper, as one of the supervisors bangs on the door.   

5. What subjects motivate you to write?

It’s revenge. Don’t believe the moral posers claiming they’re doing it for you, or this or that group – it’s always revenge.  

6. What is your work ethic?

It isn’t.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence your work today?

Hemingway: Edit.

Irvine Welsh: Be honest.

Celine: Be even more honest.

Chuck Palahniuk: Have fun.

Bret Easton Ellis: Edit more. Be even more honest. Have even more fun.  

Kafka: You’re not paranoid, you’re right.

Orwell: Actually, you are paranoid … but you’re still right.  

Bukowski: Don’t try.

The Fantes: Keep trying.

Morrissey: Look around.

John Lydon: Look around.

Burroughs: Don’t look.

8. Whom of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

All of us. None of us. I don’t know. Fuck it: let’s go down fighting, you crazy bastards!  

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Write. As obnoxious as it sounds, just write. And if you can’t, or won’t, then congratulations: you’re not a writer.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

About 4,683 poems chewing through the inside of my skull, like an army of death moths trapped in a dusty old light bulb. You know, same as usual.

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 9th-15th May. This year’s theme is “Loneliness”. Day Seven. Please join Rachel Deering, Barbara Leonhard, Sue Finch, Dana Clark-Millar, Cy Forrest, Peter J. Donnelly, Sarah Reeson, Teresa Durran, Anjum Wasim Dar, Gillian Winn and I. I want to feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about loneliness. Please include a short third person bio. Here are seven types of loneliness as defined in an article in Psychology Today. If you have any unpublished/published poetry/short prose and/or artworks that relate to these I would love to feature them. New-situation loneliness. You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely. B) I’m-different loneliness. You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition. C) No-sweetheart loneliness. Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person. D) No-animal loneliness. Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives. E) No-time-for-me loneliness. Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started a family, so that your social scene has changed. F) Untrustworthy-friends loneliness. Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. You’re “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends. G) Quiet-presence loneliness. Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room, or reading on the sofa.

Day Seven

Ghost in an Empty Chair

Sometimes it is just a flap of wings in a lonely meadow,
or a child’s shoes and socks left by a pond

Sometimes it is the intensity of darkness
or the emptiness in the kitchen at harvest

Maybe the laughter ascending from the street below
or the ‘stepford wives’ promenading past with their pugs;

the elation of cheering crowds at a football match,
the vicar’s wife fraternising with the village elite…

Whatever triggers it, you instantly know,
that lonely ghost in the empty chair is you,

as though you are marked out with a blood-red bindi….
folk turn away, rejecting the discomfort of your grief

The world tumbles to wrong conclusions
and your sealed lips shout ‘I am still here!’

You cannot fight the inevitability of it;
you ask yourself why grief is such taboo….

Sometimes all it takes is the wind kissing your hair,
the cyclist turning to smile as he pedals past,

moonlight catching the svelte stem of your wine glass,
or an unexpected call from a complete stranger…..

Just small things, singular, unremarkable, yet they have
the power to transform your world…and you are grateful

First published in The Blue Nib journal

-Margaret Royall

Bios And Links

-Barbara Leonhard’s

work is published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Free Verse Revolution, October Hill Magazine, Vita Brevis, Silver Birch Press, Amethyst Review, PhoebeMD: Medicine & Poetry, among others. Barbara won prizes and awards for her poetry in the anthology Well Versed 2021 and Spillwords, where she was voted Author of the Month of October 2021, nominated Author of the Year for 2021, and recognized as a Spillwords Socialite of the Year in 2021. You can follow Barbara on her blog site, https://www.extraordinarysunshineweaver.com.

-Rachel Deering

lives in Bath with a cat. She writes poetry and takes the occasional photo whilst walking.

-Dana Clark-Millar

Over the past 2 years Dana has taken a deep dive into the world of haiku. When her fingers are not occupied counting out syllables, she is using them to weed and plant her garden. You can also find her cooking, canning and preserving foods, birdwatching, taking photos, playing out on the trails or enjoying a book while her 3 dogs and 2 cats attempt to out-cute one another. 

-Cy Forrest

is state-educated, Manchester, now living in Wiltshire. MA Creative Writing, Goldsmiths, University of London. Elvis at the Golden Shovel appeared in February’s issue of The Honest Ulsterman, the first in a set of four sestinas using end words from Gwendolyn Brooks’ twenty-four word poem, The Pool Players, Seven at the Golden Shovel. Billy Collins longlisted another in the set of four for the 2021 Fish Prize. Poems have been placed at Icefloe Press and here in The Wombwell Rainbow. Two are due to appear in Stand Magazine later this year. A full collection reached stage two in The North’s March 2021 open call.

-Louise Longson

cleared enough space in her spare room and head to start writing ‘properly’ during lockdown 2020. She is published by One Hand Clapping, Fly on the Wall, Nymphs, Ekphrastic Review, Obsessed with Pipework, Indigo Dreams Publishing, The Poetry Shed and others. She is a winner of  Dreich’s chapbook competition 2021 with Hanging Fire. A qualified psychotherapist, she works with historic trauma and the physical and emotional distresses caused by chronic loneliness. Lives with an orange cat and a silver Yorkshireman. In her head, sky is always blue, grass always green, leaves always golden. Needs to get out more.

Twitter @LouisePoetical  

-Gillian Winn

is a mature poet, currently studying Creative Writing with the Open University. She worked as a nurse for the NHS for 40 years. She lives in North Yorkshire.

-Teresa Durran

was born in London and lives in Hampshire but has rarely felt less English; the blood of Celtic ancestors flows through her veins. Being the daughter of immigrants has entirely informed her world view and she has always instinctively empathised with the outsider and the ‘other’.

She writes delicate poems for fragile times because she has to. She wanders and wonders and dreams, and she is always lost in music.

-Sue Finch’s

debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in 2020. Her work has also appeared in a number of online magazines. She lives with her wife in North Wales. She loves the coast, peculiar things and the scent of ice-cream freezers. You can often find her on Twitter @soopoftheday.

 –Margaret  Royall

has six books of poetry published. She has appeared widely in print, in webzines and  poetry anthologies. She has won or been short-listed in several competitions and her collection ‘Where Flora Sings’, published by Hedgehog Press, was nominated for the Laurel Prize in 2021. Her latest collection, ‘Immersed in Blue’ was published in January 2022 by Impspired Press. She leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and takes part in open mic sessions online and in person. She is currently working on a third poetry collection.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com/ Twitter:@RoyallMargaret

-S Reeson [she/they] is 55, bisexual and married with two children: they have suffered anxiety for all of their life, and started telling stories as a ten-year-old in order to help them cope. Now, they write and record poetry, short stories and episodic fiction, whilst dissecting their unique creative process using both video and audio as the means to continue coping.

A considerable lived experience of mental health issues, a passion for niche arts and media and an undimmed enthusiasm for environmentalism combine, to allow creativity to emerge, and new stories and projects to be created. They love to experiment and push creative boundaries, and gain a huge amount of motivation and inspiration from talking about both the journey and continued evolution as a creative.

After winning a Poetry Society members’ contest (and reading that piece at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden) they attended the inaugural Mslexicon in 2019 and took part in their first ever Open Mic event. In that same year they wrote 24 poems about their home town for the Places of Poetry online initiative, one of which is included in the official anthology published for National Poetry Day in October 2020 by Bloomsbury and subsequently reproduced by the Sunday Telegraph.

Their work has been published by Flights / Quarterly ejournalGreen Ink PoetryFevers of the MindAcropolis JournalSelcouth StationBlack Bough Poetry, Flapjack Press and Dreich, plus there have been performances at Gloucester Poetry Festival, Flight of the Dragonflies and the monthly event at Wordsworth Grasmere. They have read alongside countless poets, including Caroline Bird, Steve Camden, Deanna Roger, Jeremy Dixon, Julia Webb and Wendy Pratt, and in 2021 they read at the Essex Book Festival. They’ve also learnt and grown creatively via poetry courses run by Apples and SnakesKevin HigginsWendy Pratt and Jonathan Davidson. A self-produced poetry chapbook was produced in November 2020 (available to buy here).

In October 2021 they were nominated for the Best of the Net Award.

They enjoy living online, but also find great joy from lifting heavy weights, running and cycling in the meat-space.