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Issue #3 | Zero Readers

Blood Work

Michael Black

I gave them a vial of my blood,
inside the small room.
It was lost by the analyser.


we need a blood democracy hothouse,
for now, it remains my blood.

I let it be tested again and again.

Michael Black is finishing a PhD at the University of Glasgow. He has reviewed poetry books for SPAM Plaza and Osmosis Press. His poems have been included in Adjacent Pineapple, Re-Side, -algia, Beir Bua, SPAM online magazine, and the Babel Tower Noticeboard.

Tender Loving Care

Once I ran away from home
Until my children cried out;
They said the cupboard was bare.
I opened my chest and showed them,
Now they know there’s nothing there.

Julia Ruth Smith is a teacher who lives by the sea in the South of Italy. She swims, writes, gets over-emotional and exaggerates frequently. Two children, a dog and a cat. She is on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1


Stephen Kingsnorth

My title, Jude, you understand?
If but a hardy soul, you should.
Perhaps my verse is not your space
but yours the access – trace my mind.
Why can you not hear what I voice
and, taken plunge, still get it wrong?
I’ll write, gazing in crystal ball –
if yet unseen, your wiring’s poor.
I’ll use the info learned at school –
for poetry found learnèd brains.
Perhaps I’ll translate, common state,
and then you’ll celebrate as found?
Now what I share is something known
or else the poem’s not owned, mine,
but common knowledge, commonwealth,
and recognition not my deal –
the common touch still calls for breadth –
but as I’ve finished, up to you.

“But, friend, we seek a commonplace,
that least you write, available,
not easy grace for trampling swine
but observation, chiming bells.
So, application to the task,
my answer only if both work,
and then the page that typist typed
has archetypal emphasis.
So, come together, pilgrim road,
discover what’s new in our world,
inherent posers, if we ask –
an entry point, art comprehend.
If bounded, wedded, stewardship
it might be both, best understand.”

Stephen Kingsnorth, retired to Wales, UK, from ministry in the Methodist Church with Parkinson’s Disease, has had pieces published by online poetry sites, printed journals and anthologies. He maintains a blog: https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

on flirting & skirting with undertows, rocky roads & 1_2_3

as a child i collect rocks. barefoot on gravel paths. peony pink paint on toenails. glitter specks and spectacles. my fingers move mountains as i dig for rocks of many shades. and many moons. underfoot. shards of glass. glasses always half full, eclipses always half acres wide. & out of reach. solar duals lunar in infinite loops. rocks everywhere. i gather them in soiled palms. collect them in plastic cups with off brand cracker dust and over-priced ice sandwich wrappers. as a child i count rocks. one. two. three.

crave 1, 2, 3. ready. set. go. drop 1, 2, 3.

barefoot in nightgowns of Tinkerbell and Cinderella. oversized and under worn. sleep always elusive. of dreams & wishes. mares with shiny manes. nights of sharp moments. of midnight sirens & overripe pumpkins. alarms around all corners. as a child i collect rocks. handwritten sticky notes. pennies of sweat-stained palms. hallmark cards of pleasant tidings. stored & stocked. on bedroom nightstands surfaces. in bedroom desk drawers. top right. lower left. scolded for too much clutter. no more. too much dust. ah choo. too much must. eww.

one unlaced Ked in front of the other. step. stomp. grope. grovel. on high roads & gravel paths. why must you 1. you must 2. never forget who gifted you 3.

fingers skim baseboard dust. in search of 1 — do i. must i. tiger eye. i do.

as a child i never fully grasped rock bottom – scars & tissues on/for/of hands, knees, & chambers of heart & mind, after decades of collecting rocks. scabs on knees. scraped elbows. childhood dust scattered everywhere, collected cups of graphite and sedimentary stones, layered of collections of recollections. handwritten notes inked of sharp words & edges. a blanket of weights too heavy to lift, before i knew what it meant to 1. to 2. to 3. on grounds of soft sand & dew kissed grass. in beds of lilac scented sheets & warm nightlights. where rocks are for glasses that clink and fingers that dazzle of artificial gemstones & genuine crisscrossed hearts. bowls of homemade applesauce simmer. rock shaped bubbles boil. cinnamon on top.

fingers flex as knuckles crack. in search of 2 — do i. must i. wide-eyed. i do.

do you know what it’s like to hit rock bottom? to drop be thrown into the deep end of a concrete pool, man made in a suburban jungle, and told to swim. it’s neither the stuff of a hallmark card, the ones in tiny plastic sliders in the oversized suburban mall, nor a hallmark of a life well-made. man made. not tailor made. all threads frayed. denim bell bottoms would graze the soiled floor of the concrete sinkhole. strawberry shortcake patches on knees and bums. raspberries on cheeks. rocks, torn frocks, and bottoms everywhere.

fingers point in unison. in search of 3. do i. must i. continue to try. i do.

research teaches most rocks are comprised of minerals. those that contain silicon. oxygen, too. in abundance. for that i should be grateful. vitamins & minerals part of a healthy diet. along with space to breathe. some say you have to taste the pain of loss to appreciate the sweetness of 1. 2. 3. someday i say, i might agree. today, i say, i do. as a child i collect rocks. of sharp & cutting edges. of words & eyes of swords. i know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. & then swim. back. up. through the deep end. chasing any ray of sun with the audacity to cut through icy waters and promise warmth. breaststroke. one. two. three. breathe. butterfly. one. two. three. breathe. hurry. quick. time stops for no one. the sun sets daily. flap wings. slice water. consume rays. emerge. breathe.

i know what it’s like to hit rock bottom. and then swim. back. up. & breathe. to

  1. live
  2. love
  3. life

ready. set. go. 1. 2. 3. breathe.

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She loves words, warm welcomes, and winter (along with the other three seasons). Poetry is a perfect complement to all of her interests. Poetry is also a perfect sounding board for her many questions. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals.

Flutter and Wow

Jay Fraser

Pulse-paced, shifting like
Oil on glass; greased rainbow memory
And glistering sub-recollection

A wavering reproduction (shaking)
Held up to hear (to inspect the sound)
And know (once-heard aural death)
To be (Passed from this world to haunt)

Jay Fraser is a writer from Lincolnshire. Growing up between the fields and the North Sea, he finds inspiration in both as well as in critical theory, philosophy, and horror movies – though not always at once. Currently in the process of completing his MA in Literature at the University of Lincoln, he spends far more time thinking about writing than he does writing, something that will hopefully balance out in future. You can find him @JayFraser1 if you’re a Twitter person. 


let me be a holy habitation
where your spirit is sent
and mine, to die an endless death
let me be

what makes the rain freeze
turns ocean into ice
and clouds into moving smoke.

Sloane Angelou is a storyteller & writer of West African origin; passionate about learning of human existence by interrogating human experiences. They exist in liminal spaces.