Tarot – a poem by Jay Ramsay


(for Caroline)

I have been driven
into the earth. How did I manage
all these years to escape ?
How have we escaped ?

Sadness, grief stands behind us
in a wasted landscape
that past, present. Black figure,
blue planet.

The present is all this matter
that matters, or we do not matter.
The Knight of Wands rides strong.
The Page of Pentacles sits on the ground,
eight discs surround him.
The sword above pierces the crown.

The cards glow on your winter carpet. What now ?

Magic—as above, so below
out of the bowels of the ground !
The Hanged Man thinks with his gut,
the world is upside down.
And there’s a dancer holding
a lemnescate between his hands—
a joyous man, a fool turned wise.

Eternity lies all around,
he knows true life is out of time.

The knight of knowledge stands,
wisdom in his eyes. He scans
the far horizon; turns his horse, and rides.

And up above, in a dream
a lost cup is returned
to a man beneath a tree,
by grace alone, the time redeemed. I do not see
how else it can be done.

Our destiny rises clear
out of the mud. This love. One for all,
and one and one is one.

Dec. 9th 2017

Jay Ramsay, who co-founded Angels of Fire in London in 1983 with its Festivals of New Poetry, is the author of 30 + books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation (with Martin Palmer) including Psychic Poetry—a manifesto, The White PoemAlchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, Shu Jing—the Book of History, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Places of Truth, Monuments, and Agistri Notebook (both 2014). In 2012 he recorded his poetry-music album, Strange Sun. In addition, he’s edited 6 anthologies of New Poetry—most recently Diamond Cutters—Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania (with Andrew Harvey: www.tayenlane.com), as well as many collections for other poets, also under his own pamphlet imprint Chrysalis Poetry. He’s also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, working in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychotherapist and healer, and running workshops worldwide (www.jayramsay.co.uk).

From Requiem for an Agnostic – poems by A C Clarke

From Requiem for an Agnostic



Have mercy on us flowers we sowed and severed
small creatures we sprayed into silence

Have mercy on us trees that we embittered
grass that we stamped into obedience

Have mercy on us air we poisoned
water we filled with alien forms

Have mercy on us every living thing



Glory to the sun’s bright blade swiping the eye
of a winter morning, glory to rain
that tops up overflowing burns
like a generous barmaid

Glory to rooks who see out winter
following the plough, grubbing worms,
glory to hens whose children are seized in the egg
Glory to the cheerful malice of foxes

Glory to buzzards that lord thermals
on effortless wings, to the small, quick lives
that rustle through growing fields, to spade-handed moles
Glory to tadpoles bubbling in a spring ditch

Glory to everything that has ever lived
to everything that has never lived
but is the cause of life in others
Glory to whatever sparked Creation

Glory to however it ends



What kind of God needs praises?
If praise comes it must well from a spirit

that feels the splendour of the variations
creation plays on a single string.

Holy holy holy caw the rooks
from the high trees

Holy holy holy sings the river
among the reeds

Holy holy holy shouts the rose
as it strips for winter

new buds already tingling its tips

A C Clarke‘s fifth collection A Troubling Woman (Oversteps), centred on the medieval visionary Margery Kempe, was published in 2017.  Her pamphlet War Baby, one of the joint winners of the 2017 Cinnamon Poetry Pamphlet Competition, is due out from Cinnamon Press early next year. She lives in Glasgow.


Trees Feral for Light – from a sequence by Peter Larkin

Trees Feral for Light


Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 14.49.13

Peter Larkin’s poetry explores the idea of scarcity in its phenomenological aspects. Previous collections include Lessways Least Scarce Among (2012), and Give Forest Its Next Portent (2014). He contributed to The Ground Aslant: an Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry, ed. Harriet Tarlo (2011). City Trappings (Housing Heath or Wood) was published in 2016 and Introgression Latewood is due out later this year.

A Pebble for my Father – a poem by Carolyn Oulton

A Pebble for my Father

New Year’s Day, and I’d forgotten
to bring my own pebble to a sandy beach.
In the car park, the road twisting round
the bulge of a Victorian pavilion,
I’d have dug up the tarmac to get one,
dug out grit from under car tyres.
Rain daubed lightly on the ground
was no good at all, it would have crumpled
into my hands when I tried to throw it.

I didn’t expect that one perfect pebble
on the ground. Casual as a shoplifter
I bent and put it in my pocket.
Then the wind and my feet were sagging
into the lugubrious sand. Whether it’s
hello or goodbye again, I never quite know.
But what I will say is, that by the sea edge,
wet as if they had swum out of God’s hand,
A hundred thousand pebbles were thrown back.


Carolyn Oulton‘s poetry has been published in magazines including Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, iota, Seventh Quarry, Ariadne’s Thread, Envoi, New Walk, Upstreet, Acumen and Ink, Sweat and Tears. Her most recent collection Accidental Fruit is published by Worple Press. Her website is at carolynoulton.co.uk


Shadow Bobbing – a poem by Michelle Diaz

Shadow Bobbing
See how time moves bones
then buries them
how thought is apple –hard
Let those cider tears
release us
may we never down hearts
with a petty crunch
Let life peel us
the sad, everyday air
brown us
to the core


Michelle Diaz is a poet who currently lives in the colourful town of Glastonbury. She enjoys playing games with her ten year old son who suffers from Tourettes Syndrome and reading poetry like her life depended on it. She has been published by Prole, Amaryllis and was included in the Please Hear What I Am Not Saying anthology. Last year she was awarded 3rd place in the Mere Poetry Competition.

Homo Ludens – a poem by Tony Lucas

Homo Ludens

The sun’s full disc lifts clear of hills,
whitens, and chases purple shadows
from the land.   He was up before it,
has recited thirty psalms and bared
his conscience in the face of God.

A lizard living in a cleft beside
the cave’s dry mouth – his closest neighbour –
moves into sunlight, patient for
warming of its blood. The hermit, moistening
his tongue with brackish water, breaks
his fast – with one dry biscuit and
three dates kept by from yesterday.

Soon pilgrims and the penitents
will come. They camp at the oasis,
out of sound and sight, now pick
their way across the warming sand.
Many have come bare-foot. Each waits
their turn to tell the saint of cheap
adulteries and tedious deceits,
complain about unfaithful husbands,
shiftless sons. Many ask counsel;
few will follow what is given.

Some gawp into his cell, devoid
of all possessions. Only a water jar,
a codex of the scriptures, occupy
the space.   They will not guess he holds
sometimes, a dozen rounded pebbles,
a palm-fibre ball, inside the folds
of his rough threadbare robe.

After the final visitor recedes
across the hill and he has said
the vesper office, final psalms,
he may take up these trifles and
beguile the last light, concentrated
on some game that he had played
from childhood, letting the demands
of daytime fall away, the demons
of the night all stand aside and kick
their heels, excluded from the circle,
from the charmed arena of his play.


Tony Lucas lives in London, south of the river.  Stride published some of his early work, and he was a regular contributor to Ambit for a good number of years, among other magazines.  His latest collection, Unsettled Accounts, was published by Stairwell Books, two years ago.

The concept of right and wrong – a poem by Claire Sexton

The concept of right and wrong

An ethical foundation
can be a wonderful thing,
but it separates you from
other people, with
a barbed wire fence.

The concept of right and wrong
Is outmoded, and pilloried,
left, right, and centre.
Like grammar, and the Oxford comma,
it makes no sense to so many.
A look of something like pity
transpires; a clouded look, silence,
and a shoulder shrug.

When you say that ‘it’s the right thing to do’;
show compassion, or believe in the best
of humanity, heckles arise. Suddenly
you are persona non grata, and you may
as well have spat on their shoe, vomited,
or poisoned their food.

It seems like goodness
has no place; its image is tarnished.
And my belief slips further and further away.
Like fractions of shell; floating,
in a bowl of cracked egg.


Claire Sexton is a Welsh poet and writer living and working in London. She loves poetry, fruit tea and cats, and has been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Peeking Cat Poetry, Amaryllis, Word Life – Now Then Magazine, and Light – journal of photography and poetry.

Cathedral (I) – a poem by Jen Rouse

Cathedral I

Once I worshipped Paris
from the top of Sacré-Coeur,
spent my last genuflect-moment
at the tattered train
of Notre Dame, bathing
in biblical light. In the crypts
of St. Paul, I wept.
I am called to the word cathedral,
where the mother city lives—
come into her body,
the gentle rocking womb of her,
curl up on a pew, whisper
what you want. Call it sanctuary.
Do you need to be forgiven
or found? Will it be faith
or fortitude in the end? Is this really
only a wicked reward system?
Then why return? She responds
to your sadness with architecture.

In her hands, the scaffolding &
centering frames. She smiles and says
lift each stone now. This could
take centuries. And yet they were
cut to fit together perfectly. You
know this. The weight you can bear,
the entire roof on your shoulders.
It’s as simple as constructing an arch.
Watch as she tears down
what lies beneath you.


Jen Rouse’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Pretty Owl, The Tishman Review, The Inflectionist Review, Midwestern Gothic, Sinister Wisdom, and elsewhere. She has work forthcoming in Up the Staircase, the CDC Poetry Project, Parentheses, and Sliver of Stone. Rouse’s chapbook, Acid and Tender, was published in 2016 by Headmistress Press. Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.

House of Words – a poem by Jim Aitken

House of Words

I walk the empty aisles and sit
along a row of empty seats.
The faded fresco above me
seems to invite a form of words.

And words seem to be everywhere –
from stone columns to wooden beams,
from the altar to the lectern –
they fill the air in words once said.

In the corners of the roof tops
some prayers lie between the cracks
and from the Stations of the Cross
they discolour the old varnish.

Arches of stone support the words
that have been uttered in deep faith
and all of the stained glass windows
have prevented them escaping.

Millions of words like far-off stars
light up the darkness of the night.
They formed just like stars and burst
out in hope of a better world.

And right now they shower the floor –
supplications and confessions
and petitions of every kind –
then rise like invisible dust.


Jim Aitken is a poet and dramatist living in Edinburgh where he also tutors in Scottish Cultural Studies. His last collection of poems was called Flutterings, published by Red Rose Press in 2016 and his last play was Muriel of Leith, produced by Spartaki for the Leith Festival in 2017. Jim also tutors in Creative Writing and takes groups on Literary Walks around Edinburgh.

Statueing – a poem by Wayne-Daniel Berard


No one said
would mean
this your joy
to those you
bear. “Thank you
thank you” they
weep as they
back away changing
next to nothing
grateful for your
being right there
way over there
but locking
the temple doors
from the outside
a switch to flick

how dark is
this enlightening.

Wayne-Daniel Berard teaches English and Humanities at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. Wayne-Daniel is a Peace Chaplain, an interfaith clergy person, and a member of B’nai Or of Boston. He has published widely in both poetry and prose, and is the co-founding editor of Soul-Lit, an online journal of spiritual poetry. His latest chapbook is Christine Day, Love Poems. He lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, The Lovely Christine