Two poems by Janet Dean Knight

Bring Me Something Back

We came to buy a Plaster Saint,
I had forgotten that. He remembers
a Bleeding Christ, pinned to a cross,
a pale green glow-in-the-dark Rosary.

This time, I choose a Sacred Heart.

In her front room, Catholic Gran holds
the Heart, gazes away her thoughts,
closes the door on the painted pine cupboard
where she keeps all Daddy’s gifts.

Home Birth                                    

Evening comes relieving day of its duty.
A wind born on an ocean far away collapses
in the lap of trees.

Labour’s pain, a cotton stitch pulled tight
across her hips, folds her over, soft as a blanket.
Breath suffocates her words –

profanities formed of aspirants and fricatives.
He takes her, drapes her over the birthing bed.
Through a crack in the windows the wind cries;

he hears it as a gentle whine below
the deafening creak of impressed teeth
against her lips. She’ll never scream.

Her heels drum hard against the mattress.
The midwife moves on the edge of silence,
Her apron catching threads along the bed frame.

His hand on the bottle his only strength;
The cold fear striking his chest. What can he say,
With only the begging wind to hear?

Dragged from his whiskey-doze, he wakes
For a child who enters the world sobbing.
Behind the door, the midwife tucks away all tears.

He turns the knob slowly needing time to practise,
She is so new. Her mother, troubled only by pain
Asks ‘how are you feeling?’

Shortlisted in the Bridport Prize 2012

Janet Dean Knight was born in Barnsley and now lives in York. Her poetry has appeared in print in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Skein published by Templar, Ours edited by Maureen Duffy, Hysteria 3 and Ariadne’s Thread, and online in The Morning Star, Message in a Bottle and York Mix.  She was shortlisted in the Bridport Prize in 2012, and commended in the Stanza Poetry Competition in 2015, and in 2016 co-edited and launched The Friargate Anthology, a collection of creative work by York Quakers and their supporters. Janet has recently completed her first novel The Peacemaker.

Abracadabra – by Maggie Mackay

Dad was a maker of magic.
He rose above our wee catastrophes,
mined for shiny coins to treat us
to Knickerbocker Glories at Nardini’s.
Their rainbow layers made us smile,
the ruler length spoon,
the wafer arched like a Spanish fan,
the tall glass waiting for a rose.

On wet afternoons we queued at the Dominion,
Smartie tubes squashed in our pockets.
The curtains swished back – wheesht –
as Pearl and Dean sang out. I slid into velvet.
Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter,
The Big Screen. My Dad.

 Abracadabra was previously published in Pod Holiday Special, at The Fat Damsel,  August 2016

Maggie Mackay, a Scottish lover of jazz and a good malt, is in her final Masters year at Manchester Metropolitan University. She has work in print and online including The Everyday Poet edited by Deborah Alma, Amaryllis, Bare Fiction, The Fat Damsel, The Interpreter’s House, The Poetry Shed, Prole, I am Not a Silent Poet, Three Drops Press and Indigo Dreams Publishing.


Three Poems by Dorothy Yamamoto

Father in snow

In this print by Hokusai the snow
sits on the roof like a quiet cat.
Sometime in the night
it will slide off the eaves,
a footfall in the flurry of dreams.
In the morning,
as the orange sun rises,
someone will take a sensible broom of twigs
and scrape the path clear
all the way to the misty river.

Snow is the same the world over—
so you’d think, but
it is also other­—
other even than itself, every snowflake
perfectly individual.

So here in England
it is English snow.
You’re in your boots with the ribbed tops,
and blue corduroy jacket.
The house has shoved you out—a puff of surprise
as you light your cigarette.

And though snow is a language, starred
with the small gates, the crystals, the
heart of difference,
and though you have come far,
and will always be strange to me,
here you are, and here it is,
banked against the roots of the hedge,
waiting for the skirl of your shovel.

The mushroom shed

If they come back
my mother will materialize
in her armchair, a book
fluttering its new white wings

but my father will walk through the garden
looking critically at everything:
the unswept leaves, the ground elder
sneaking on to the lawn.

I think the shy scalps
of the carrots will please him,
also the birdtable
with its offering of crumbled rice

but the moment I wait for
is when he eases open the door
and steps into darkness.

He’s back on the mountainside
among the mushroom plots
roped off for neighbours.
The old watchman, Koma, lets him through.

The smell of the mushrooms
is everywherehe kneels
among the braille of pineneedles
hoping to uncover their whole bald world . . .

as here, by the empty trays,
I watch his fingers silently questioning
and, little again, I crouch
close to him, almost behind him,
to see what he sees.

Paper cranes

Those same stained fingers
that spread a drift of tobacco

across thin wafers of paper
crimp triangles into wings

crease breastbone, neck, beak . . .

But our voices are insistent:
There are more rabbits than we thought—

so you yank nails from orange boxes,
fit miniature bolts,
and tarpaulins to keep off the rain

grumbling all the while.

In my dreams the cranes multiply
until there are a thousand of them—

one thousand cranes
adding up to one wish,
pondering flight from the same hand.

Dorothy Yamamoto grew up in Barnet, north London, where her Japanese father and English mother settled after the war. That divided background is the source of many of her poems. She now lives in Oxford, and writes non-fiction books about animals as well as poetry. Her collection, Landscape with a Hundred Bridges, came out after she won the 2007 Blinking Eye competition, judged by Don Paterson.

A Poem by Stephen Daniels


My daughters create
paper planes,
just like I used to.

Mine would soar
across the garden,
theirs tear when wet.

I suggest we make them
under umbrellas, together.

Previously published in Eunoia Review.

Stephen Daniels is the editor of the Amaryllis Poetry and Strange Poetry websites. He is also a father of two daughters aged 6 and 9. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines and websites, including The Interpreter’s House, Ink Sweat & Tears, And Other Poems, Obsessed With Pipework, The Lake. His forthcoming pamphlet Tell mistakes I love them will be published in 2017 by V. Press. You can find out more at


Two poems by Sarah Leavesley

Learning to Drive

It was the manual choke that got me,
that and the short but steep slope
of our drive to the road, stopping
before the edge, guessing the biting point.

Our Ford Fiesta did its best, tried
to chug smoothly, to even out breaths.
But me, I hadn’t yet learned to predict
the tone of steeled vibrations.

Week after week, hour after taut hour
of lessons with my dad,
everything about us cramped
into the space behind the steering wheel.

Arms brittle in plastic ballerina pose,
I’d grip the padded plastic, lift
my foot from one pedal, jolt-dance
on brake, accelerator, brake.

He’d watch, his back a closed door,
hands manacled to each knee,
though he couldn’t stop his left foot tapping.
So many times I inched us from the slope,

juddering…but in control.
Then we’d hear the engine gasp
and catch its breath,
as we stumbled,
…………………….then lurched forward.


Like my dad, Leonardo’s letters –
his mirror-script written right to left –
were before their time.
But there’s meaning between the lines.

Anatomical studies of the foetus,
our legs, head, eyes… Behind his art,
dissection, wax injections and the flow
of millet seeds through a glass heart valve.

My dad’s engineering – traffic flow
through towns – is unremembered,
re-developed. The letters he wrote
to me at university were filled

with years of nurture: from foetus
to tumbling toddler, through teen heart-break
to the homesickness of life
away from childhood and family.

Unappreciative at the time,
I now unfold Dad’s words to read
and re-read each copper-plated line;
my heart brims with meaning.

Sarah James is a poet, fiction writer, journalist, photographer and occasional playwright/short script writer. Her latest poetry collections are plenty-fish (Nine Arches Press) and the Overton Poetry Prize winning sequence Lampshades & Glass Rivers (Loughborough University). A short novella, Kaleidsocope, is published by Mantle Lane Press later this year. Her website is at and she is editor at V. Press, poetry and flash imprint.


Three poems by Finola Scott


Ah que bella!

Dad strolls from the city bus,
trilby tilted jaunty as always.
Blue touch paper’s under his arm –
pasta waits to explode.
A brown bag holds garlic, its white skin
rustles as he brings this regular
pay day treat from Fazzi’s.

In our mod-con formica kitchen
green oil and red puree sizzle
turning scot’s mince into magic.
Sunshine in a pot.
Our dreams smell of Dad’s Italy,
the only wartime smell he mentioned.

He carries the kitchen table out
to the sun where we watch him
toast Mummy. Their heart-red Chianti
winks in glasses. He teaches us
to kiss slurped spaghetti and think
of The Lady & the Tramp, never
the fighting in Salerno.

A version of this poem was published in Pod, Fat Damsel in 2016

No stablisers today

Gravel sharp   grey crunching
ground   slopes down   acid
dandlelions crowd the edges
don’t go there don’t
      stay on the smooth path
      fast too fast
      but Daddy says I must
      go fast
      or I’ll fall
Wheels  whirr  whizz
My buckled sandals pump
faster round the pedals.
Daddy runs alongside laughing and
calling, ‘ You’re doing great.
Straighten up. Now!’
His tight hand at the saddle’s back
keeps me steady.

Sun belts down   burns freckles on neck
grubby hands slip slide on chrome
  I can’t do this        too fast         I can’t
Near path’s end I rush
forward  past  the broken fence
hurtle alongside
the rough brick wall.
My curls bounce   gingham dress whips legs.
I glance round to ask
Daddy what to do
but he’s not there.
He’s grinning
from the top of the lane.

A version of this poem was published on Silver Birches site 2016


Published by The Scottish Book Trust in their collection  ‘ Treasures’  in 2013

Finola Scott’s poems and short stories are widely published in anthologies and magazines including The Ofi Press, Raum, Algebra of Owls,The Lake, Poets’ Republic. She is pleased to be mentored on the Clydebuilt Scheme by Liz Lochead. A performance poet, she is proud to be a slam-winning granny.  Her roles as daughter, teacher, wife, mother and grandmother are important sources for her writing. She is involved in the political, with especial reference to women’s place in society.