Walking to the Solstice

I raise you a bunch of haws’ tight fists,
darkly reluctant to quit thorns.
I compliment you in frosted drips,
mash, sticky from orange-bright hips.
I give you hard burgundy brambles
never destined to grow soft or more ripe.
I slip down strange chocolate-bittered fruits,
hungover by tenacious crab apples.

All your light sharpens these short hours
ignites, then doubles the Tay.
You flare in the rip
fired through the lifeboat pier.
We curl into your copper bowl news,
keen for the year’s last turn.



Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review and elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. When not writing she is to be found year-round, in or by the Tay. Lamping for pickled fish is newly-published by 4Word.




Midwinter Invitation

Though the sun stands still and cold
darkness seems to lengthen, deepen,
despite being trimmed a fraction.
On a foggy morning, barometer rising,
almost invisible sparrows play in the wood
like small falling leaves that sing.
They don’t mean to teach me but they do,
so I’ve hung a hotel on the shed for them
next Spring, or sooner if snow comes.
In due course the sun will pause again,
but this time overhead at noon,
and the busy team chasing
across the road will still be here,
living on scraps of dust and air.



Chris Hardy lives in Sussex and has traveled widely. His poems have been published in many magazines, anthologies and websites. He is in LiTTLe MACHiNe www.little-machine.com ‘The most brilliant music and poetry band in the world’. Carol Ann Duffy. His collection Sunshine at the end of the world, was published by Indigo Dreams.”A guitarist as well as a poet Chris Hardy consistently hits the right note, never hits a false note”. Roger McGough.




The Advent Calendar of Most Useful Things

Behind door no. 1   A stranger’s smile cut from a magazine.
Behind door no. 2   The feeling of approaching rain.
Behind door no. 3   A healthy mushroom dome.
Behind door no. 4   A bradawl’s point.
Behind door no. 5   Broth mix.
Behind door no. 6   Some obsolete currency.
Behind door no. 7   A tawny owl’s inclination.
Behind door no. 8   Your favourite carol sung tuneless and loud.
Behind door no. 9   A lucky horseshoe.
Behind door no. 10  An atlas of made-up lands.
Behind door no. 11  Permission slip for a pantomime.
Behind door no. 12  One outlandish moustache.
Behind door no. 13  Two slices of wholemeal toast.
Behind door no. 14  A dish of trifle with no calories.
Behind door no. 15  A squished Chapstick stuck with pocket lint.
Behind door no. 16  Empty (to encourage Seasonal Perplexity).
Behind door no. 17  A genuine vintage Babycham glass.
Behind door no. 18  Your child’s first tooth.
Behind door no. 19  A unicorn made from driftwood.
Behind door no. 20  A matchbox full seaglass from the beach.
Behind door no. 21  A stout torch.
Behind door no. 22  The brackish taste of an icicle.
Behind door no. 23  A friend’s name from your past.
Behind door no. 24  The smell of a blown-out candle.
Behind door no. 25  An Arctic hare the shape of your mind.



Jane Burn‘s poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies, have been placed in numerous competitions and have been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prize. None of this is as important as love for each other and for the positive power of words.