A Compass Rose


In my heart,
there is always a space
for a rose.
Whenever I am in the dark,
I plant one, a tiny bud.
It becomes my hope.


Soon its light fills in
this little spot,
then the whole sky,
and becomes thorns
to those who are playing blind.


I hear their mourning,
I see their paleness.
Teach me how to plant
one for them,
but do not ask me
to bury my own.



© Anna Yin

Picture 10637985, photograph by Brian Daglish, 1970s



Anna Yin was Mississauga’s first Poet Laureate. She has published four poetry collections, including Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac (2015) and Nightlights (2017), both with Black Moss Press. Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTY Awards and 2016/2017 West Chester University Poetry Conference scholarships. Her poems have appeared in Arc Poetry, The New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, World Journal, Literary Review of Canada and elsewhere. She has received three grants from the Ontario Arts Council for her poetry projects. She teaches Poetry Alive at schools, colleges and libraries. annapoetry.com


A Northern Snow Scene


All the kids are out today, and sometimes a dog

chases his pack down the hill, and sometimes

someone’s mam shouts from the ember of a doorway,

so that every head turns to see whose tea is ready,

who’s going for their bath and who will dare stay out

till the wide sky, leaning on the slope’s top edge,

tows the silhouettes of trees down to their shadows.



© Wendy Pratt, first published in Gifts The Mole Gave Me (Valley Press, 2017), originally commissioned in 2015 for a Northern Soul Christmas card

Picture 10239487, photograph by Shirley Baker, 1968



Wendy Pratt was born in Scarborough in 1978, and still lives in North Yorkshire. She worked as a biomedical scientist for thirteen years before becoming a full-time writer. In 2015 Wendy was highly commended in the Forward Prize and won both the York Mix and Prole Laureate Poetry competitions. Her first pamphlet, Nan Hardwick Turns into a Hare, and her first full collection, Museum Pieces, are both published by Prole Books. Her latest pamphlet, Lapstrake, was published by Flarestack Poets, and her latest full collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me, was recently published by Valley Press. Wendy is poetry correspondent for the webzine Northern Soul. She has a BSc in Biomedical Science from Hull, a BA in English Literature from the Open University, an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester, and is working on a poetry PhD at Hull.


Scrooge Goes Last-Minute Shopping


I’m not buying gifts — do I look like a fool? —

but Humbug and Bah, I’ve run out of gruel!

The market is crowded and smelling of sweat,

with the most scowling and growling you ever have met.

I whip my way through the queue but what do I find? —

yes, there’s gruel but of every conceivable kind.


Patagonian organic gruel with added gingko.

Luxury Duchy gruel at £10.00 for ten grams.

Low-fat, gluten-free gruel infused with balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Vintage gruel with top-notes of citrus fruit and new-mown grass.

Festive gruel with a free glow-in-the-dark Father Christmas.

Early season hand-prepared Golden Gruel,

1234567891234567891234567891234etc. etc. etc.


To offer such choice is unnecessary and cruel —

all I want is traditional, non-nutritional, foul-tasting THIN gruel!

I buy one more thing and then I’m out of there,

pushing my way through rosy-cheeked choirboys in the square.

There’s a little blue-eyed lad holding out his charity tin,

so I reach in my pocket and … put a rusty metal bottle cap in.


Here I am at my door but I’m feeling quite odd —

those carols about a loving, beneficent, generous god

have sapped my greed. Of course! It’s Christmas Eve!

This happens each year, pesky visits I receive

from those blackmailing, wheedling, soft-hearted ghosts.

But I’m proof against compassion as I’ll now take a dose.

of high-strength gruel-flavoured 72-hour sleeping pills.


I’m drowsy already, I’ll be in the Land of Tight-Fistedness until

all  danger of remorse is past. So goodnight and good cheer —

old Scrooge will be snoring through Christmas this year.



© Derek Sellen

Picture 11784703, watercolour by Freddie McKeown, 1995



Derek Sellen’s work has been published widely and received awards over many years. He won the O Bheal Poetry Competition in 2015, Hungry Hill Poets Meet Politics in 2014, and the Poetry Pulse Annual Competition in 2017. Other recent successes include an award at Poetry on the Lake, and being shortlisted in various 2017 poetry competitions. A collection, The Other Guernica, will be published in summer 2018. He lives in Canterbury, Kent, and is an active member of SaveAs Writers.


Roast Chicken


I snuggle into mechanics,

chopping up breasts and rubbing flesh

from the neck, then scooping the heart.

A Sunday task, it absorbs me

till I find the flimsy wishbone.



© Matthew Stewart, previously published in The Knives of Villalejo (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Inventing Truth (HappenStance Press, 2011)

Picture 10144857, photograph by Tony Boxall, 1970s



Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex. His first collection, The Knives of Villalejo, was published by Eyewear in June 2017. He blogs at: http://roguestrands.blogspot.co.uk/