The Slip Inn / The Pub With No Beer

Walking home past the village church, I'm drawn
to the lamplit window in the cottage
opposite, the old blacksmith's — before that
a pub: The New Slip Inn. (How come, this far
from a waterway?) The interior
is bedecked with memorabilia
that materialise, hammer and tongs
in the glow from a fire, wooden bellows
pumping the vision into life. Then it
cools, but somehow softens. It has the feel
of something dimly remembered, windows
opened in an old calendar. I lean
in to put right one of the slipped horseshoes
that has spilled its luck, making the world turn

upside down, I've passed through a cupboard door
and walked out onto a bleached verandah,
not that of my own childhood but to where
another family has assembled
for a shot outside The Pub with No Beer —
except the father has a glass of it.
He rests his forearms on the railing while
his son twists awkwardly bored, and mother
stands back in her sunnies. You — on the edge
of your new beauty — smile to camera,
a little white dog between your bare feet.
You're already telling me that the song's
what this is all about: Old Billy, a
blacksmith; how and when the warrigals called.

Paul Munden (UK)

The Bulmer Murder cover
Paul's book The Bulmer Murder will be published in April 2017 by Recent Work Press.


Women of Disharmony

Disharmony is not only a state of being
But a colourless cube, built from converging walls
Bound by the mason's mortar between the brickwork
Solidified by the hot breath of weeping women.

Philosophise — believe this concrete clad room does not exist
It is simply an invention of the mind, a mental bondage
To historical inaccuracies. Or it is best forgotten, left that way
Just a square of walls in a silent, fenced-off field. But I

Heard about disharmony, in their voices travelling along
The barbed wires that now coil within my DNA strands
And their words were silenced outside those walls
Yet their last breaths were born in my lung tissue.

Have you seen disharmony? It begins with one wall.
It can build a city that stands a thousand years by a river's grassy edge.
Painted walls, cultural facades spread over the landscape. A colourful city
With sweeping designs of yellow stars smeared onto its doorways.

In that cube, that bare room, all the women were gasping
Running their hands along the concrete looking for cracks, trapped
By disharmony. Naked and brown, without sunlight or moonbeams
Not far from undivided Berlin, somewhere by a whistling train line.

Perhaps it was the same track that ran to the sea
Where families boarded boats, some never to see each other again. Separated
Sisters and cousins, children cast out like ashes from a furnace
They waved goodbye and said ‘Shalom’ to the ghosts they left behind.

Last night, I dreamed I visited Auschwitz.
A man in uniform smiled and led me through the gates.
He reunited me with the lost women of my family. They held me close
Crying as we showered in the space where those walls converged.

Wendy Beach (Western Australia)


Join the Library

let’s see sir
you wish to
join the library
you state that
your name
is God
also known
as Jehovah, Yahweh
Sovereign of the Universe
The all Powerful
Lord of Lords
and others
but do you have any
proof of identity?
yes I can see that
you have a halo
and can do miracles
thanks for that
my pain is cured
but no sir please sir
do not get agitated
and do not threaten
library staff with
those winged heavies
standing outside
and plague and pestilence
showers of frogs fire
brimstone and treacle
they would damage
our book stock
and no sir
the Four Horsemen
of the Apocalypse
had to fulfil the
same conditions
do you have a
council tax statement?
or driving licence?
or a passport?
no sir we
do not have
an original copy
of the
Dead Sea Scrolls

as it’s sadly
closing time sir
could you please
come back

Patrick McManus (UK)
First published in Phoenix, 2015


Black Dog

By the third day, he is my grinning Familiar,
standing by my side, rubbing at my leg,
my bathroom companion at 3 AM, burbling
reminders that if I've gone insane, at least
I lack the soul of Berryman or Lowell,
neither as gifted, nor as wholly mad.

He gently nibbles on my ankle, but big as he is,
his teeth do not break skin, nor is there any malice.
He is as Churchill named him: my tutelary spirit,
my personal Melancholia, my anatomist of dismay.
If his teeth are like the needle's sting
they are not angry, just persistent.

I am just a common-garden nut-job drunk,
smoking in the bathroom, exhaust fan on,
making the next day's hangover as I make piss,
perfect aim in the dark, imagining a waterfall
glowing down into the Amazon, far away,
far enough away so even I'm not here.

Kenneth Wolman (USA)



how I hate the park

they don't
they long for it
they beg for the park
their first words are
onomatopoeic utterings
meaning swing or slide

they love the secret hiding spots behind the toilet block
the so much sand
the soft edge of the pond
where shoes schtock schlurp
the space to run and run and run
away towards the busy road

at the park
my neck aches with pre-prepared anxiety
which I've packed along with drinks and sliced apples

within minutes
I'm secret service agent or minder
scanning the area for danger
while they squeal and whirl and fly
loving everything about the park

how I hate it

one faraway day
teenaged and taller
they'll head here with their friends
to make out or hang out
slouching ironically in the swings
and pushing each other into the pond

at least then I can worry at home

Rebecca Freeman (Western Australia)
From Rebecca's book The Pretend Parent


Christmas Eve

It’s snowing out to sea,
lights are harboured in narrow streets,
all labour ceased, only cats prowling;
the clicking masts indifferent
to the hours’ pass.
Breathe slowly in this precious night,
morning will come, wrapped
in its own surprises.
And January waits in the wings:
dry ice and drama
for a new year.

Robin Daglish (UK)



He gives the clothes back
to them. They are not really his. He walks back
into the snow — the avalanches — they have broken him
many times. He knows he has to find a way
to pile the snow, to lie across it —
to become the river.
And now he returns to the cave.
He will walk deep enough to paint the sun
on the wall. Where the cave eats,
he will pile the rocks, the fragments
of his wood. After the sun has bled
a thousand days he will be able to open his eyes,
to breathe — to make his fire.

Annie Blake (Victoria)


Life and Death

by Remiel Ruah (aged 7)

There are things still living
in graveyards
Plants... trees...
with golden leaves...
If I died, I'd like to be buried here
In the graveyard.
And the headstone have two things:
A wizard, and a dragon.
The dragon be made of gold
with rubies for eyes
the scales crimson velvet.
And the wizard, made of silver,
his wand with a diamond at the top,
I would have his eyes as amethysts.
I think it would be better
to live forever,

I have a friend
that had a baby
and the baby died
even before it was born.
That is the saddest thing
that I can think of.

I love Morgana.
She died.
I saw a shooting star when she died.
I don't know how she died, precisely.
But she died in the night, peacefully.

I would die, if I could,
as old as about
one hundred and nine years old.
And with love.
I think it isn't very good to die as a baby or a child.
Like, I would say, an elder grown up would be better.
I say, it would be better to die in battle
than to die old and weak in bed.
I think, I will travel the world...
if I can...
when I'm grown up.

When lizards are creeping through the leaves
in the graves
it sounds like dead people creeping.
But really...
it isn't.
There's things still alive in graveyards.
Such as golden trees.
And snails.
A lizard I saw was eating a snail.
I saw it crack it open and eat it.
There are also other things
I've discovered.
For instance, there are larvae, living larvae.
In little pots, flowerpots.
It's really interesting how they move
and dance across it.
I don't know how they got there.
Probably by the rain.
But how should I know?
I think it's really interesting.
Their movements
and how there's a spiderweb over their pot.

I would like to hang around graveyards more
of the time.
Just to find more interesting stuff
like lizards and stuff, you know?
There are actually things that are born in this cemetery.
For instance, baby lorikeets, that you can hear now.
(eee, eee)
I love baby lorikeets,
although I've never seen one.
They make such cute little noises.
They live so wonderfully
their colour all RAINBOW.

When I die
I would like to have
a little place
in my gravestone
where snails can rest
and live.
So the lizards can eat them.

Remiel Ruah (aged 7) (Western Australia)