Christmas Tree 

The chainsaw, a hive of angry wasps,
chewed the bark and something
tall and graceful
collapsed with a low groan
as its needles pricked the earth.
Below, the city lights were plugged
into the socket of the bay
as we loaded the tree onto
the roof of a suburban jeep
and joined the convoy,
like an old-time show of
Russian military might.
These missiles, armed payloads
locked onto the semi-detached
targets of suburban driveways.
The tree unloaded, base trimmed,
placed on its stand like a rocket
at ground control.
The fuse sparked the lights
that hissed their way to ignite
the star at the top.



Sean Smith is a Dublin based poet who has been published in a wide range of journals, including 14 Magazine, The Poetry Bus, Skylight 47, Paper Swans and Firewords. He can be found on Twitter @paysan)




(for those in chronic lockdown)

Message from space:
we have lost our Christmas crackers

Please send your laughter
our dreams are warped and dry

Too long with no contact
we talk to ourselves in riddles

The dark has teeth
we can neither see nor feel

But every day we grow
a little smaller

All our balloons have withered
the pudding is cold

Turn up the lights
that’s all folks
we want to go home



Rose Anderson lives in Leeds with her husband, Phil; their cat, Lily; and a rubber octopus called Dave.




Pandemic Legacy

The last game that we played
before the real one descended:
as a team, you work together
to follow viruses around the world,
try to stamp them out.

It’s tough – the board develops and mutates
as Hollow Men, empty outcasts, prowl,
while we desperately jet-set, fire-fight
to pass each new objective.

The news shows nothing else.
Our home is under attack,
invisible microbes creeping in like nuclear fallout.

Every day,
politicians play the blame game
to deflect from their latest blunder:
it’s the science, or the quangos, or it’s us
not following the ever-changing rules.

We cannot play together.
I miss the flow of friendly competition,
heated debate over cards and wooden meeples,
the perfect moves to save the world
decided by committee.

From cells, we play alone,
separated by blocks of time.

At the end,
I hope we will have tales to tell.



David Van-Cauter’s  pamphlet Mirror Lake is published by Arenig Press. He was runner-up in the Ver Poets Open Competition 2019. He is a personal tutor based in Hertfordshire.