24th December
Late Shift, Christmas Eve

Twelve reindeer wander among these lean trees.
Muffled light, seeping through layers of conifer,
is reaching them as snowflakes, floating gently
to settle on backs and over their dappled grazing.

Above them, another team strains at the tethers,
dragging that laden sleigh up a sky-bound spiral.
They search, noisily, for a lit route, and grumble
about those heaps of cloud which hide the stars.



Oliver Comins lives in West London. His collection Oak Fish Island was published by Templar Poetry in 2018. He tweets @OJComins.




Melchior’s Tribute 

Lo, the star he saw in the east went before him.’

The ancient kingmaker sighs on arriving at the spot.
He lays down his scimitar, smooths his beard, kneels.

Reaching from the painting, his hands bowed low,
the pilgrim offers an apple of solid gold.

It’s an acquisition from Alexander’s treasure trove,
now gift for the King of Kings, a babe swaddled in poverty.

This is the old man’s reward as cartographer of the stars,
philosopher of Persia. He slips into everlasting legend.



Maggie Mackay’s pamphlet The Heart of the Run, 2018 is published by Picaroon Poetry and her full collection A West Coast Psalter, Kelsay Books, is available now. In 2020 she was awarded a place in the Poetry Archive’s WordView permanent collection. She reviews poetry pamphlets at https://sphinxreview.co.uk (Happenstance Press)  and for The Friday Poem – The Friday Poem

Note: this poem was published in the Midwinter 2018 issue of Three Drops From a Cauldron.




Before becoming Nick Saint in the late afternoon  

Gloom looms over the guy who’s paused across the street.
Hi Nick, he calls, It is Nick isn’t it? You’re Nick, Nick Saint.
Head down I walk on, ignore him who thinks I’m not me.
I’m sure, then, I see gloom enter him. It’s what I first saw
in exhaust fumes rising through emptied supermarket trolleys
as crammed boots were squeezed shut, blank faces drove away.

Gloom is step-by-step with my shadow as I reach Kevin’s Kutz 
where a bald barber wearing a Santa beard waves scissors in mid-air
while he yells at the queue sat in Santa Hats along the wall,
their strangers’ faces, and their faces in the salon’s facing mirrors,
look at him, my at-the-open-door face, Everything is gloom –  
which silences what’s heard on a Christmas Songs DVD –
and the air you’ll walk into with fresh necks exposed  
will drench you in gloom on tonight’s Christmas Eve night out.  

I walk on, pause where it’s only behind the back of my head,
It falls away where Christmas tree lights overwhelm a window
where a couple and child stand as if they expect someone.



Bob Cooper has had seven pamphlets published – six of them winning competitions and two full length collections, the latest with Pindrop in 2017 – see:  http://www.pindroppress.com/books/Everyone%20Turns.html   He lives on the Wirral.