The flamingoes are waiting, poised
pink rippling across the water.

Bubbles rise around my feet
disturbing frogs and fish.

I balance on one leg to show
that I am good enough to be a bird.

Hands on hips, I flex my elbows,
lower my shoulders, resist the urge

to scratch my prickling skin. Sun
warms the stubble on my back

lips stiffen and grow heavy. Wind
ruffles my new-fledged feathers,

I shudder and thrill as I feel
them lift. The dance begins

stepping and swaying, nodding and turning
they draw me in amongst them

so that I may choose a mate.
He will show me how to stir the mud

bend upside down, sieve the algae
suck the shrimps. And when

my feathers glow as bright as his
he will teach me how to fly.



Anne Symons: After a career teaching deaf children and adults Anne began writing poetry in retirement. Her work has been published in Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, Ekphrastic Review, Agenda, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ink Sweat & Tears and The Atlanta Review. She has recently completed an MA in Writing Poetry with Newcastle University and the Poetry School, London.




The Philosopher’s iff

In symbolic logic there’s a sharp distinction
between ‘if’ – which simply signifies
what we normally mean by if –
and the stronger biconditional ‘iff’
which stands for ‘if and only if’

for instance

I’ll be warm and cosy tonight
if you sleep with me
does not discount the possibility
that I’ll be warm and cosy
if I take a fluffy hot water bottle
to bed with me instead;


I’ll be warm and cosy tonight
iff you sleep with me
implies that there’s no other person
or object that can satisfy my need
for nocturnal warmth and comfort.

In other words, your presence in my bed
is both a necessary and sufficient condition
for me to be warm and cosy,

and as a further corollary
we may assume that if I want
to be warm and comfortable tonight,
your presence in my bed
must be desirable.



Alwyn Marriage’s twelve books include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, –  most recently The Elder Race (a novel) and Pandora’s pandemic (poetry). Formerly university philosophy lecturer and CEO of two international literacy and literature NGOs, she’s currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books.




Face Orogeny

From the small eleven between the eyebrows
to the bunnies on the bridge of the nose
from crow’s feet to nasolabial folds
lip lines to marionette lines,
the face is a drawing book.

Of all the 648 full moons I’ve seen so far
I recall the one that came a month after mother’s passing
⁃        a gentle smile in the sky
shining through the July clouds
glinting in the rain.

There’s a mountain beside me
made of the moss of broken thoughts
that I’ve culled from the grey mists of my mind.
I didn’t know the shade of mountains
could be soft.

I’ve felt my heart plummet so many times
that I fear it might need braces
to stop from falling altogether.
Something stays locked inside me
like a lift stuck between floors
like an image in an age-speckled photo
that just won’t clear
no matter how many lines I wear.




Vinita Agrawal  is an award winning author of four books of poetry based in Delhi, India. She has edited an anthology on climate change. Recently, she co-edited the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English. She is poetry editor with She can be reached at




The Three Little Words

I nearly didn’t say them at all;
as it was I waited till the end,
till she was unconscious.

After I’d said them
I grew bolder, safer,
free to say anything I wanted.




Carole Bromley is a York-based poet, winner of a number of prizes including the Bridport and the Hamish Canham Award. Three books with Smith/Doorstop, including one for children (Blast Off! 2017). Calder Valley published a pamphlet, Sodium 136, in 2019 and Valley Press a new collection, The Peregrine Falcons of York Minster, in 2020.

Note: The Three Little Words was first published in The Stonegate Devil, Smith/Doorstop 2015)