Poetry – Issue 5.2

The Skeffling Whale

by Pippa Little

Embedded in salt marsh
she was a crashed balloon
musty as church myrrh
the man who found her, who walked widdershins
round her body, stood mute witness
to its moon-surface map
of inexplicable death-throes,
toed by experts and councilmen
with talk of hoists and salvage,
like a keel dragged, dredged, upended here,
wonky camber exposed to air
half a mile or more from the sea,
his lorn Eve –

by coming on her first,
of all humans he believed himself
answerable –
yet larks purled overhead,
clouds roiling up as if full of silver fishes, he felt
how good to be alive!
and could not be led away.

In September 2011 a female from the rare Sei species of whale was found over 800 metres from shore in Skeffling, on the Humber Estuary in England.

As the Crow…

by Rachael Clyne

i catchthee
wi’ mi corbie eye
speedy tho’ you look me
i spythee
wings spread me
coiled quiver
uplift me
on branch 
so it
_____air spin

swim me
_____i ffflap soarrr


Afeared o’ nowt
and tribe
we stab peck
_____any bits

allus fly straight: the crow way
allus sit
_____atop o’ tree
______________see faarrr!

Previously published in Singing at the Bone Tree (Indigo Dreams Publishing 2014)

Black Bear

by Julie-ann Rowell

O envy of the black bear by the side of the road
hunting for berries in the lowdown bush,

up from the sidewalk, left at Burton,
and the traffic cones someone’s stolen.

He picks with hands ending in claw,
delicate enough for these red dots,

lifts his huge bear head when a boy
trundles by on a skateboard, sports cap

pulled down, unknowing, except of the road,
and bear scatters to the trees, his rump

is all I can see. The skateboarder scoots
out of sight, and the bear returns

in lumbering stroll to his scavenging,
black and bold in the scree

of human living. I gun the car and move
out of range, enclosed in my metal cage.

The street is his tonight as the moon
creeps up against the sun and wins.


by Kathy Miles

This guest of summer, the temple-haunting martlet (Macbeth 1:V1)

They have returned this year
speaking new tongues, their song quivering
plainchant from the branches.

Carried like erratics on the wind, over
lake and mountain and dry savannah
they map the earth’s magnetic field,

the compass of shifting sun. In their eyes
oceans and far stars, bleak Saharan wastes.
Sky tossed from glossy wings, blue-washed

with scattered light. They come back
to remembered nests under beam and eave,
huddled cups of mud and gathered grasses.

Now they bank on the current,
skimming a cream of aphids from the air,
swerve and loop over reed-beds, where

snow-bones speckle cold in meadow ridges
and early midges swell across the marsh.
I see cheetahs in their dreams, leopard

and wildebeest: lost coast and forest,
rising seas, the bleach of coral reef.
A disappearing world in their requiem.


by Lee Nash

She’s different, not like the other girls:
she’s carrying a lot of extra weight;
her skin’s a little rough. Her wide lips curl
in a curious way; her hips gyrate
but unnaturally. In the dim light,
she does what is required, and doesn’t speak
to the men. They take her night after night
in the dingy living room, week after week
on the soiled vinyl sofa. When they’ve paid,
as Madam spruces up her cash machine,
she slips into another simpler world,
her huge brown eyes like two ripe mangosteens.
A forest person has a sound for man,
but savages don’t speak orangutan.

Tanka poem by Tim Gardiner

mining bees
riddle clay cliffs
with tiny holes
sharks’ teeth
betray short lives

Poet Biographies:

Pippa Little is Scots and lives in Northumberland. Overwintering , from OxfordPoets/Carcanet, came out in 2012. She has a chapbook, Our Lady of Iguanas, and a second full collection, Twist, forthcoming. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University.

Rachael Clyne lives in Glastonbury. Her writing the wild collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, won Indigo Dreams’, George Stevens Memorial Prize. Anthologies: The Very Best of 52, Book of Love and Loss, Poems for a Liminal Age. Magazines: Poetry Space, Reach, Tears in the Fence, Fat Damsel, Interpreters House. You can watch Rachael performing As the Crow here.

Julie-ann Rowell’s first pamphlet collection, Convergence, published by Brodie Press, won a Poetry Book Society Award. Her first full collection, Letters North, was nominated for the Michael Murphy Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in Britain and Ireland in 2011. She has been teaching poetry in Bristol for eight years.

Kathy Miles is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Her third collection of poetry, Gardening With Deer, will be published by Cinnamon Press in June 2016. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and she is the winner of the 2015 Bridport Poetry Prize.

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publisher. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com

Dr Tim Gardiner is an ecologist and poet. His haiku have been published in literary magazines including Blithe Spirit, Frogpond and The Heron’s Nest. His first collection of poetry Wilderness was published by Brambleby Books in 2015. He has published many papers on natural history and several books including one about glow-worms.