Debbie Strange is an internationally published short-form poet and haiga artist living in Canada. Her most recent book, The Language of Loss: Haiku & Tanka Conversations, won the Sable Books 2019 International Women’s Haiku Contest.


Dear Sophie,
20th December

Like the year, I’ve reached a black spot around which to  pivot. Advent melts on my tongue, overly-sweet.
Giving is one pleasure of this season; but another is  retreat.
The cherry tree wrings its naked hands. Tannin-brown  leaves steep its feet.
I prefer to give to those who never ask; a species of  retreat.
What would we talk about now, if midwinter closed the  gap and let us meet?
A chisel-strike of bird alarm. I rattle the door, the black  cat beats a specious retreat.
Both of us always acted about as fatherless as aphids. How I feel is, I feel, quite resistant to speech.


Kirsten Luckins is a writer, performer and creative producer from Teesside. Her work has been published widely in magazines such as Butcher’s Dog, Under The Radar and Magma. her third collection Passerine will be published by Bad Betty in 2021.




Essential Travel

The golden hour
of you
and your back
flickering under
your shirt hem
into a moment

in this bus station,
that can’t fit
in here.
and as I touch
my chest

you’re whole.
And the pigeons
are gone
from the rooftops

and the silence
arrives like street lamps
humming into purpose.
I’m not waiting.


Pascal Vine is a UK performance poet from the Somerset Levels who enjoys describing the world around them in the touchiest-feeliest ways possible. They have been published by Bad Betty, Three Drops, Verve and Eyeflash. They are disabled, nonbinary and tired.




The Firetail

In the year of the cold winter
after obtaining permission
from the Padre, Sister Beverly

invited the birds to take holy orders
and live at the convent till spring,
when she would release them from their vows.

The delighted nuns fed them
with some of the tiny almond cakes
they baked to sell in the village

and turned the loft into a small copy
of their own room below,
with rows of white beds against the walls.

They learned the birds’ songs,
and the birds learned the nuns’ songs
until no one could untangle their music.

At night in bed the firetail watched the woods
and thought there was enough food left
on the bare trees to keep at least one bird alive.

So, as the birds were carried to matins
the firetail slipped from the sister’s hands
and flew up into the empty sky.


Caroline Hammond lives in London and is a founding member of the LetterPress Poets.  Her work has appeared in Under the Radar and Finished Creatures Magazines, the Black Bough Poetry Christmas and Winter edition and the Emma Press Anthology of Contemporary Gothic Verse.