Poetry from Susan McLeod , Michael McAndrew, Tawnya Renelle, David Cameron, Peter Clive and Finn McLysaght


    Susan McLeod was born in Scotland and has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years. She completed her first novel, The Brazen Calyx, as part of her Creative Writing MA studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and is working on her second. The eagle-eyed will note that the novel title is taken from a MacNeice poem, indicated her poetic loves. Susan also enjoys writing short fiction and has had a short story published in Crooked Holster (Volume 3) and two winning entries to Liars’ League London (September 17 and April 18). Susan lives in Macclesfield with her husband, daughter and three black cats.


    Smoke and Mirrors

    Just a dry cough.
    No pain, no fever, no air gasps,
    Nothing tangible and the waiting room
    Is full of stoop-shouldered people.
    Am I wasting your time?
    If it wasn’t for the tiredness,
    The mud-shodding torpor,
    I took the lift to the surgery
    And felt old.
    Do I malinger?

    Just a dry cough.
    The GP types tittle-tattle and smiles.
    We’ll send you for tests.
    For I am of an age, apparently,
    Risk factors, you know.
    No, I don’t know.
    No drink, no smokes, not an
    Inch hangs the wrong way from my bones.
    Biltong-lean and just as tough,
    I almost believe my own bravado.
    I dream of the white plague.
    At school, the six-needles stood proud
    And spared me shoulder jabs.
    How reliable was that?

    Lovely veins, the nurse coos and
    Slides the needle home.
    The pink plastic cannula rides
    The ebb and flow of my circulation,
    A foundering craft.
    Saw the lady in half, an old vaudeville act,
    But modernized.
    The nuclear age makes illusion reality,
    I am cut into a million slices
    And feel nothing.

    A hard, bright room.
    The consultant is grey of suit, voice, soul.
    And I see
    A galaxy of white-cold stars spinning me
    Out, in, out, out, out of existence.


    Michael McAndrew is a navy veteran. He does most of his writing at his job, a residential treatment center for severely traumatized children. He lives in Colorado.




    Untitled 2

    The inside of my mouth
    Already tastes
    Like beer vodka cigarettes vomit

    Very calmly
    I add the umami
    Of a shotgun barrel to my palate

    In this moment
    I feel so Zen
    Tears dry stomach quieted

    My blood
    Is going crazy
    Staccato pounding in my ears

    I’m outside on my porch
    My wife sleeps inside
    I don’t want to make a mess

    This is just a dry run
    I didn’t put the shells in yet
    Not very brave, I guess

    I put the gun away
    Make a mental note
    To try harder next week


    Tawnya Renelle graduated with a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She currently lives in Glasgow, UK and is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing. She is undertaking the task of writing a textbook about hybrid forms. She enjoys spending extensive time in the Scottish Highlands and baking.

    “In the beyond”

    At the top of the stairs
    the miniature opera plays out
    A door opens into a room
    focus is small
    The costumes golden and glowing
    lavish with sequins
    The eyes are magnifying glasses
    lush green velvet carpet
    brass railings lead up
    The scene is all color:

    The scene is Black and White:

    She and I are looking for her
    and she is looking for him
    We know she has on a ball gown with a sweatshirt over the top
    She and I do not know what he is wearing
    but she has gone looking for him

    The scene is Black and White:

    We are driving down an alleyway
    in a truck that belongs to T’s father
    her boyfriend chokes her
    attempting to stop our looking
    But she and I are looking for her
    And she is searching for him

    The scene is Real:

    All morning at work
    Discount exam charity care
    Phones ringing
    Someone’s out today
    Untouched breakfast
    Coffee getting cold
    Who is going to work on what day


    The scene is all color:
    I am alone
    I ask the crowd around me
    The crowd watching the opera
    If they have seen my friend
    They say
    Go through the basement to get there

    Dark, muddy and grates with holes
    I know this isn’t the way to go
    Something terrible lives down here
    It is not the way to go
    There is a light that flickers

    Halfway through I turn around
    There is a child showing me the way
    To the green velvet stairs
    I know they are not down here

    conversations about what will happen with a coworker
    who is going to work on what day
    Protocol and denied authorizations
    MRI scans
    CT scans
    phone ringing
    phone ringing
    Typing the date
    incorrect notations
    Typing the insurance eligibility
    Phone ringing

    Staring at the computer screen

    And all I can see
    in the beyond
    behind the eyeball

    A scene in color: lush green carpets

    A scene in black and white: of a sweatshirt over a ball gown

    A scene in color : of a dank basement

    Every part of the day
    brings me to the place

    the back of her there
    and never him-he’s missing
    She did not find him
    I cannot escape it


    David Cameron was born in Glasgow in 1966 and now lives near Belfast. He is a recipient of the Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry, and his poems are collected in The Bright Tethers (Rune Press, 2016). Robert Nye wrote of Cameron’s work that it possesses ‘a quality of verbal alchemy by which it transmutes the base matter of common experience into something like gold’.



    The skull of my sketch makes Miss flinch,
    Or else it’s the tool they used to trepan.
    She’ll put her hand to her throat in a minute.
    Less than.

    We don’t believe in demons any more.
    Spend less time on the ancients, she says.
    Something more up-to-date:
    The NHS.

    I feel my skull.
    That’s where the bore-hole would be.
    That’s the place where my demons would
    Leave me.

    Aim for the railing.


    Peter Clive lives on the southside of Glasgow, Scotland with his wife and three children. He is a scientist working in the renewable energy sector. As well as poetry, he enjoys composing music for piano and spending time in the Isle of Lewis.



    The light

    They say
    a light shines in the darkness
    which the dark can’t comprehend

    They say
    she lived her life
    like a candle in the wind

    They say
    life’s but a walking shadow
    until that brief candle is put out

    And all the time the suggestion is
    we are all lights
    divided by an abyss of darkness perhaps,
    occasionally visible to each other,
    but otherwise alone and lost,

    But they are wrong.
    There is no darkness, only light,
    everywhere and always,
    There are closed eyes,
    that open twice,
    at the beginning and the end of life;
    and in between there is a dream
    when we imagine we can turn away
    from what is already within us.


    Finn McLysaght is a Sociology and Politics student at University College Dublin, where they are active in the English & Literary Society. Their writing is informed by themes of memory, family, relationships, bodies, and gender. They have been published by the Three Fates, Bombinate, and Monstrous Regiment. Outside of poetry, Finn is involved in activism and HIV advocacy.


    I still find your silver strands in every crease and crevice of the space we once occupied together

    I consider
    each one of my hairs and laying them out on the kitchen table
    Ordering them
    by length

    Perhaps one night you will return
    And sweep them to the floor
    Or collect a few and weave them into
    That jumper you have been meaning to mend for months

    Maybe I am wasting them?
    Maybe I should fasten them together
    one by one
    create a rope
    to lead you to me
    or near enough


    Instead I
    One inch from my skull every month
    at half moon
    I will replace each hair
    fade each hair- away

    I read Anne Sexton’s quote “Love and a cough cannot be concealed. Even a small cough. Even a small
    love.” over and over and over again
    I brush your hair under the couch

    I think that love and a cough are the same thing
    Sometimes neither are beautiful
    and both can get stuck in your throat
    If I sew my lips together
    I can keep you forever




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