Mother Calling On Big Bird’s Phone – Michelle Moloney King

Carrots done. We await your orders.
Until this deer fence went up less than 10 years ago,
bees trucked in for pollination.
The purple land behind was no different from the burning foreground,
HERE the sheep are. No planting: all of the
trees naturally self-seeded a green desert full of poems
for dessert.
As they start in the praying room, oh very exciting. Clutching bottle.
Coats still on, lead us in.
Oh ye of little fate, may the best team win at the morning
charity event. I’m looking at my watch now and I don’t know,
about 15?

Michelle Moloney King is an experimental poet with an undergrad in computer science from University of Limerick post-grad in education from Hibernia College. Her interest in string theory along with her qualification in Hypnotherapy aid in her experimental poetry. She works as a primary school teacher in Co. Tipperary, is a member of Golden Vale Writers Group Her site is

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My Bad Choices – Holly Day

I was knuckle-deep in the governor
when the phone call came, something about a pardon
some random fluttermoth that needed to be cut free
of its cocoon. The governor muttered something
about straight razors and handkerchiefs
blood evidence and popular opinion
finished with a parable about woodchucks.
I felt the tremors begin in my hands, come up
through the floor. It was too early to give name to forgiveness.

Later that night, I dreamed
I was sleeping with the governor of the state of Indiana
and my mother had been arrested for shoplifting.
In my dream, she brought her knitting bag to her electrocution
covered her lap with a blanket and curled her feet beneath her
as if preparing to watch a nature special on TV:
something about skyscrapers and whistlepigs
two of three things that still grow in Texas.

Holly Day ( has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest full-length poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

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Ghosts – Beth Brooke

Over the ridge and down the hill,
where gorgeous, scented, butter- yellow,
the gorse still grows,
we follow a path sheep have made
and roe deer frequent.

At the valley bottom, a different world,
guarded by ash trees awaits us.
We walk through orchard remnants
of gnarled apples to Bushes Barn.
Flint walled, it bears the scars it gathered
in another life,
bricks plug gaps that once were windows.
The thatch is gone now, corrugated sheets
of iron form the roof, but the tap outside
still offers water, and brambles trace
the boundary of the kitchen garden.

There are ghosts here;
we stand and listen, strain to catch the echoes
of footsteps in the yard, the sweeping of a broom.
Inside, we run our hands along the fireplace oak lintel,
lean forward, peer into the ruins of the bread oven,
imagine the children who had waited there impatiently,
hungry for the loaf to be ready:
so long ago but only yesterday.

Only as we turn to go, the ghost reveals itself.
White wings strike towards us, silent
as though even the air beneath them held its breath.
I stand there, disbelieving, transfixed by
the white dish face, the yellow hooked beak.
Its jet eyes glitter in rebuke as it glides away.

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One Year On – Sherri Turner

It isn’t the missing, as such,
(although it is that),
not the physical,
the hands,
the four o’clock silences,
(although it is.)
It isn’t the being unanchored,
head of the queue now.
(Is it?)
It isn’t the day’s fragments
saved up to tell,
the absent reassurance,
the unshared celebration.

It is the never,
the always,
the gone,
the where,
the what the hell.

The gone.

The always.

Sherri Turner has had numerous short stories published in magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories in competitions including the Bristol Prize, the Wells Literary Festival and the Bridport Prize. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies. She tweets at @STurner4077.

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bowling with the cia – R C deWinter

i read somewhere
yes it was a reputable source
that a gaggle of scientists

whored out to the government
from thirdrate universities

have declared the prairie dog a condiment

something to be served as a piquancy
on a bun with godknowswhatelse

the prairie dog!
the prairie dog!

a tunneldwelling rodent
whose fleas make them
vectors of the plague

that plague

chopping and mincing and cooking prairie dogs
to a tasty paste

and the hapless serf
at your favorite fast food palace
would you like yersinia pestis sauce with that?

not to mince words
are you fucking kidding me?

wasn’t it bad enough when president dementia elevated ketchup
to vegetable status?

not to be outdone by a dead talking head
the current cockwomble is taking it
the next level


herbed maggot soup?
horse piss frosties?
peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches?
rhus radicans
of course
yersinia pestis dressing?

reality’s caked with funhouse mirrors
and i’m beginning to hurt in places
i didn’t know i had

i think it’s time to
stick twigs in my hair
paint myself with woad
and dance naked in the moonlight
in the middle of the road

but hey
gotta run
it’s thursday night
and you know what that means

bowling with the cia

RC deWinter’s poetry is anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku (NY Times/2017), Coffin Bell Two (Coffin Bell/2020) in print: 2River, Adelaide, Event, Genre Urban Arts, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, the minnesota review. Night Picnic Journal, Prairie Schooner, Southword among many others and appears in numerous online publications.

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The Heliocentric Theory – Meg Smith

Much good can come
even when the sun blinds itself —
we are the only knowing,
and we spell out the words
of its spiral.
It is only these stones, hovering,
that make a sun what it is —
otherwise, nameless, and alone
awaiting its own requiem
among other great beings
of gas, dust, coal fire.

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass. Her poetry and fiction have appeared recently in The Cafe Review, Trouvaille Review, Beliveau Review, Sirens Call, Dark Dossier, and many more. She is a past board member of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, a festival honoring Lowell native Jack Kerouac, and produces The Edgar Allan Poe Show, honoring Poe’s presence in Lowell. She is the author of five poetry books, and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to, Twitter @MegSmith_Writer, and

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Partisan – John Short

She was a fragile acrobat
on broken rooftops of escape
jumping into arms euphoric
before pain had time to register.

Armies advance across steppes,
houses gutted for sustenance.
Machine guns and home-made
grenades zipping over walls.

He dreamed a nest of miracles
a golden goose in the attic;
sad executions on frozen earth
while skies remain indifferent.

The world is a tragic dancer
up in blind spaces of oblivion
running into arms euphoric
before pain has time to register.

John Short lives in Liverpool. A previous contributor to The Cabinet of Heed, he has appeared most recently in South Bank Poetry, One Hand Clapping and The Lake. His pamphlet Unknown Territory (Black Light Engine Room Press) was published in June 2020. He blogs sporadically at Tsarkoverse.

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Early Settler – Don O’Cull

My city has no streets, it moves on difficult trails
cleared in haste through a tall topography, in glimpses of red through an infection of forest.
Red called and I answered, cut my way up that first ridge and
my city festered without corners; a metaphor thick with biology.
I said the same things over and over, told fertile Earth she was safe,
like a tick doomed to the creases of a great sugar pine.

Don O’Cull’s work has appeared in Don’t Talk To Me About Love and he has been named Barnes & Nobles’ Poet of the Month. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and an MA in English from SNHU. He currently resides in St Petersburg, Florida.

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Superman Writes Down His Dreams – Robert Ford

in a surprisingly unremarkable notebook.
Being a substantial dreamer, he prefers
a spiral-bound A4 jotter, and has chewed
the end off of every biro he’s ever owned.
Tapping into a darkness deep within himself,
he dreams of the elements, of ancient dust,
the fundamental chemistry of the Universe.
He is once again Kal-El, but fully grown now,
walking the streets of Krypton before
the cataclysm that his eyes never saw
but his subconscious keeps remembering.
Sometimes there is peace, sometimes
a weakness so human it terrifies him.
He dreams of Lois and wakes abruptly,
alone in a dampened rage of longing.
On every fresh page he records those same
accusing lines, details the relentless weight
– of himself, of time, of a puzzling planet
always needing to be saved from itself;
one whose saviour dreams of emerging from
a phone booth in downtown Metropolis,
not entirely sure he’s wearing underpants.

Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in print and online publications in the UK, US and elsewhere, including Under the Radar, Brittle Star, Dime Show Review, The Interpreter’s House and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at

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The Well – Louise Mather

the dust drifts in sunlit particles
by the window
and the garden
the weeping willow
the wishes
where is the well

you say my name
but it is not my name
it is made of glue
you have forgotten to turn out
the whirring shadows in the kitchen
made from the lights if you could find
the word stumbled
halfway up the stairs
you come with us now
rooms are not rooms

I hold my hand out
for thin blades made of airless wonder
they are unsettling you
the grey stubble itching at your face
the snails have eaten away
your eyes
cloudy blue
your smile
I do not want
the house to be sold
but the boys in your head
have been making fires

to rescue
this careless disorder of time
creaking at bones shattering
do you hear bombs closing in
ear splitting blood
where do you dissolve

you drive with your hands
my mother and uncle
when they were small
safely in the back for the day
sandwiches made from napkins
in that tank barely metres away

dressed in the night
in your best brown trousers
packed for the train
talking in and out of sleep
you ask them to be invited round
to play cards with

we cannot let go of
hand-carved furniture
sentimental jewels
lay under the chambers
secrets scrawled
into crumpled letters
that have aged
and burned away

a twist of light
everything made from embers
you turn to
strawberries in hot weather
from the allotment
potatoes with earth still welded
what you make us
with memories

Louise Mather is a writer and poet from England. You can find her on Twitter @lm2020uk and her work/upcoming work in Streetcake Magazine and The Cabinet of Heed.

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Coastal Pine – Peach Delphine

How moon came to hold you
in its tide is inscribed
on the interior curve of lightning
whelk, sturdy shell of sea, wave
rolled polished thin as sky
before blue ignites, burning
away blanketing stratus.

Owl posts boundary
of palmetto and marsh, this sponge
called ground, called dirt
called land of our bones, flowering
giants of magnolia, flowering candles
of pine, heavy with resin, palms shade
the estuaries of our eyes.

Unstitched in a hard, wave levelling wind,
as if hands could dig a hole in sea
or gulls unbolt the carapace
of moon as constellations spark
on our fingertips. We abandon
structure, every house a bone
framing of pain and sorrow.

Our tongue is wind laced with gull
and tern, thunder off the Gulf,
as mockingbird borrows song
so do we, there is no supplication
in cypress or oak, no more complete
embrace than the girdling
of lightning.

We await birds, not yet fledged,
anticipation of flight wedged
in the ribs, we are tangled in fox grape
and thorn, we contain shade, our roots
reach limestone, you pressed birdsong
to my lips, cicadas paused, the deep breath
that must be remembered.

Hand fluttering, not yet ready to stretch
into wing or the vowels that undulate
between our names, brackish waters
ebb and return, whoever falls first
in these flatwoods and bays of palmetto
will be there to cushion the other
falling, cicadas singing, fern
shrouded, subsiding into sand.

Peach Delphine is a queer poet from Tampa, Florida. Former cook infatuated with what remains of the undeveloped Gulf coast. Can be found on Twitter @PeachDelphine

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The Innocents – Angela Russo

The little boy’s toy
green dinosaur
on the floor with its
jaws open wide
in a frozen roar,

in his sister’s bedroom,
sparkly cat ear headphones
on a purple pillow,
her ballet slippers
hanging on the door,

Her older brother’s
game console
still on waiting for
him to click to
his new solo battle,

on the kitchen counter is mom’s nurse badge,
car keys and purse,
mask and tissues are
protruding out,

in the laundry room,
a tug rope on the floor,
the full bowl of kibble,
a wooden gate to keep
the dog from jumping,

an unlocked case
sitting on a chair,
an empty torn box
of ammo rounds,
a smoking gun,

one fearful night in
a family’s home,
where children played,
the dog ate,
a mother called home,
are silenced,
no one should
be lost in isolation.

My non-fiction stories, essays and columns have appeared in several magazines; weekly and daily newspapers in Ohio as well as the Chicago Tribune. I am also a graduate student at Kent State University in Ohio.

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Him – Jimmy Broccoli

You fell asleep gently, my love
I covered you before the ambulance arrived
They took me away, too
Because I couldn’t stop screaming

Loving you was my life’s symphony

On this black occasion, your family is here
I dress in blue because it was your favorite color
I re-read your poems by the gravel and grass
And the minister…
And the Amazing Grace…
And the mother fucking coffin

Don’t leave me

Your mother’s awful dress
And the eulogy

Don’t talk about how good he was
He was bad at almost everything
But he loved me
And if he had only one stick of gum left
He handed it to me

No, shut up, I won’t buy your wreath
Or your flowers
To be draped upon his grave
They aren’t beautiful enough
If you knew him, you’d understand

You – you kicked him out at 16
Because he loved me
Applause that you came around years later
You never held his thoughts
As he crumbled into darkness

Don’t talk about him like you knew him

My sunrise was his and his sunset whispers my name

Oh my sweetheart, my darling
I bought you Yoda pajamas
Because he was your favorite
An unwrapped gift, but you would have laughed
I would have snapped a photo
And our friends on Facebook would have smiled

I lay upon your cold grave
My 98.6 degrees keeping you warm
You are my home, my heart, my everything

And I do not get up

Jimmy Broccoli is a Branch Manager of a library within the Greater Metropolitan Area of Atlanta. He enjoys playing with puppies and writing frightening verse. You can find him on Facebook.

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Menu of Losing Her – Nicola Ashbrook

Pasta bake with crunchy crust of cheese and seeds
And crushed up crisps,
Chicken roast
Potatoes: oiled and floured
In puffed up bowl of Yorkshire.

Fat fallen cooker, grainy pear
Bulging purple plum
Nestle together under crumble roof
Melt icy vanilla (pale yellow river)
Home grown, hand cooked, love.

Thick-set quiche, hand delivered
With skirt-frill lettuce
Christmas bauble tomato
And finely sliced
Translucent moons of cucumber

Dwindles to chocolate painted biscuit,
Pale eyed banana
In pale bellied custard,
Furrowed sea salt crisp
A kind of Communion wafer.

To sludge of sodden Weetabix:
Whole brick
Half brick
Doll-sized spoon
Nil (by mouth).

Coral knuckles of prawn float
In Earthy coconut curry
Steaming terraced lasagne
Poached egg bobs like pickled eye
In buttery onion soup

To fuel the bedside vigil;
Onlooker’s appetites
Pulling and pushing
Like the tides
Of the days –

Scrabbles for crackers and cheese
When time’s stolen by nursing
Afternoons spent preparing
Comfort food to fuel
The comforting.

Tea medicine
Chocolate medicine, for the soul
After witnessing
Injected medicine
To control

The breath
The pain
Of my life-giver
As life seep out of her
Impossible as water from a stone.

Nicola Ashbrook is fairly new to writing, having had a previous life in the NHS. She has just finished her first novel and has pieces of flash in various places online and in print. This is her first poem. She’s pretty sure it’s a poem anyway, poetry being a little baffling to her. But, sadly, it is a piece of CNF.

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Your Last Christmas – Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

give us a twirl you whisper
on borrowed breath
ever my Dad you smile
on Christmas morning
wink admire my festive dress
I blush bully my leaden feet
to circle unfurl fanned-out hopes
you’ll lose your pain to death
but not yet never yet always
sometime later
later arrives
before afternoon sarnies
cold ham with mustard
pearl onions
and rum mince pies
your Christmas teatime favourites
so I eat double helpings
some for me some for you
washed down with lukewarm beer
you hate your bitter chilled

Image via Unsplash

Becoming Crazy – Hanna Pachman

My time narrows into his phone,
waiting for him to call me,
as his brain gets morphed
into a dusty vessel of work emails.

Without warning, a bulldozer runs us over,
separating our livers from one another.
My car becomes a hollow tomb.

I scream sorry into the vortex
of wanting and kissing.

His tongue sticks out like a lizard
as I drive away, without my feet.

I land on the ground of my room,
but my shadow doesn’t follow.

I stand patiently at the window,
writing us back to life,
blinded by feathers of his muffled gasps.

One last love letter will
knock his head back into mine.

Barely existing by my breath,
I remember how good it felt
to hear him say, I love you.

Our shared music chokes me
awake at night, as I light my ears on fire.

A phantom version of me
sweats through my body,
squeezing the beginning out of my head.

I emerge as a wide-eyed child,
eager to befriend new creatures,
to wave our wild hips across
the puddle of lost lovers.

I reflect the still standing trees,
becoming a new society
of crazy to call my own.

Hanna Pachman is a poet and filmmaker who uses writing to conquer objectification, health issues, and robot brains. Her poetry has been published by or is forthcoming in Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Collidescope, What Rough Beast, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fourth & Sycamore, Oddball Magazine, and Aberration Labyrinth. Originally from Connecticut, she currently hosts a monthly poetry event, “Beatnik Cafe” and is an Assistant Editor for the poetry magazine, Gyroscope Review.

Image by Hanna Pachman

Graduation Day – Rachel Hessom

Our gowns all rustled in a plume of red,
I felt a little like a parrot, perched upon my plastic seat,
With spiky sunshine puncturing my skin,
And marbled beads of sweat running down our spines
That arched and curved in vain attempts
To stave off heat that swathed the cooing birds.
It was, of course, unfortunate that the heatwave hit
The day we were to walk the stage.
And yet it strangely added something to
The summer dream that day became,
Remembered as a Polaroid that slowly burned
When my name was called.
I smiled and tilted mortar board
If only others knew the heat
Between that teacher and myself.
I shivered as the memory called,
The way he gasped the night before,
Falling into downy pillows, still hot
With rays of sun through afternoons
Of heat of which we’d never seen before.
He shook my hand, his eyes kept low,
I saw the sweat stains on his shirt
And wished that I could call him out.
Not a woman but a student in this gown,
I knew that we would never share a bed again.

Rachel Hessom is a writer based in the UK. She writes daily poetry on her blog, and she enjoys tweeting words that vaguely represent poems. She is currently training to be an English teacher so that that she can pass on her love of literature to the next generation.

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Early Morning Finding – Ursula Troche

Nearly empty spaces
Manifest in the early morning
Reveal themselves and other things
To be found in place where you didn’t expect
To find things you might never have considered
To look for in the first place, or even the one that follows
The first place

Like urban railway stations
Which routinely echo
The fact of the city
Slightly, time-wise, before
It wakes up, as its daily introduction
And reveals itself to itself and its witnesses

We need silence, as well as early mornings
To notice things
And sometimes silence is used only
As a mistaken assumption
Because just as emptiness is not necessarily empty
Silence is not necessarily silent

There are spaces within silence that reveal a world
Of undercurrents, forgotten incantations, and even
Forgotten or denied spaces, beyond the ends of sentences
Behind a wish or within unconscious walls of negligence
Lingering lonely and sometimes dangerously
Lacking memory or courage to be recalled

Silence as absence of interference
Is a good starting point for thinking
But silence, as an alternative to speaking
Elongates distances and misunderstanding
Becoming a poor substitute for dialogue

Silence, when used instead of conversation
Emulates emptiness and thereby contracts
The bridging and breathing- spaces available to us
So I like to call out here, to speak these points
Where silence has not heard a word for some time.

Image by Ursula Troche

Bridling The Devil’s Coach Horse – Sinéad McClure

In the shadow of the mountains
there sleeps spectacular insects
one whip of their sharp sting
may ring your breath away

They hide in the turf
slip to the damp bottom
where they feel welcome
in the slick, wet, heat.
They creep without fear
on the wetter side of the Ox
A man from West Sligo
once told me they have been known to kill.
Beware the black wasp.

A long beetle with a switch of
scorpion tail that twitches upwards
towards disturbance.

Don’t step on it, one sting could finish you off!

The cry of a man whose child has the frog’s lick
and knows about these things;
That same man showed us how to cut Lee ridges for potatoes.
Taught us how to keep ducks safe.
Took us fishing for salmon after
storm had swelled the river
the catch weak from the spawn
bouncing into his watery path.

Brought us to the Fairy Fort
that circled the bottom of his land
raised his hand
quietly shushing,
so we could hear them.

So I moved to the drier side of the Ox
started burning coal instead of turf.

Sinéad McClure is a writer, radio producer, and illustrator. She has written and co-produced 15 dramas that have aired on RTEjr Radio. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Crossways Literary Magazine, Meat for Tea—The Valley Review, Live Encounters—Poetry & Writing, Poethead, and The Ekphrastic Review. She often revisits the theme of the natural environment in her work and has a particular interest in wildlife conservation.

Image By H.-P. Widmer – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

On The Year’s First Compost – Jacob Riyeff

the children open eyes wide
as grey winds billow thru the alley
finally they believe me that our food
becomes deep rich earth—
a transformation they would not accept
on faith.
the centipedes and earthworms rejoice
in my work
as I bucket up their troping of rebirth.
mulberries fall round about:
dark corpuscular rain. and I trowel
in the compost, feeding the mouths of corn,
tobacco, high balancing begonias
that dance like pink chandeliers in the draft.
A mama thrush sneaks in the maple
leaves above, kids scuttling
aswirl as I dig. one lone
squash blossom flashes out
in sudden relief, life from death—
shock of yellow on black of earth.

Image via Pixabay

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